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Dorian Tola
December 2012
Thesis Advisors:

Donald Abenheim
Carolyn Halladay

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December 2012


Masters Thesis


6. AUTHOR Dorian Tola
Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey, CA 93943-5000


11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy
or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. IRB Protocol number ______N/A______.
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13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words)


After the September 11 attacks on the United States, Albania, a majority-Muslim country in a region vulnerable to
21st-century threats and at the time, a candidate NATO memberaligned immediately and publically with the
North Atlantic Alliance to fight international terrorism. This decision reflected a process of political and institutional
transformation in Albania that has important implications for both Albania, as a new NATO member, and the alliance,
as it faces the counterterrorism challenges of the coming years.
This thesis examines the effects of NATO policy and practice, throughout the accession process in the years
1994 until 2009 and later, in shaping and guiding Albanian counterterrorism efforts. The present project argues that
this relationship has positive implications for Albania in the dimensions of international security, defense and military
affairs, as well as domestic security. It suggests that in the future, Albania will continue to be a committed member of
the Alliance, ready to play its role in fostering and extending cooperation with partner countries in the fight against
international terrorism. The thesis concludes that the Albanian-NATO partnership in the fight against international
terrorism also underscores for NATO the importance of developing partnerships to tackle international terrorism.

14. SUBJECT TERMS :Albania, NATO, partnership, membership, terrorism, Euro-Atlantic

integration, defense reforms



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Dorian Tola
Lieutenant, Albanian Navy
B.S., Turkish Naval Academy, 2002

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of



from the


December 2012


Dorian Tola

Approved by:

Donald Abenheim

Carolyn Halladay

Harold A. Trinkunas
Chair, Department of National Security Affairs




After the September 11 attacks on the United States, Albania, a majority-Muslim country
in a region vulnerable to 21st-century threatsand at the time, a candidate NATO
memberaligned immediately and publically with the North Atlantic Alliance to fight
international terrorism. This decision reflected a process of political and institutional
transformation in Albania that has important implications for both Albania, as a new
NATO member, and the alliance, as it faces the counterterrorism challenges of the
coming years.
This thesis examines the effects of NATO policy and practice, throughout the
accession process in the years 1994 until 2009 and later, in shaping and guiding Albanian
counterterrorism efforts. The present project argues that this relationship has positive
implications for Albania in the dimensions of international security, defense and military
affairs, as well as domestic security. It suggests that in the future, Albania will continue
to be a committed member of the Alliance, ready to play its role in fostering and
extending cooperation with partner countries in the fight against international terrorism.
The thesis concludes that the Albanian-NATO partnership in the fight against
international terrorism also underscores for NATO the importance of developing
partnerships to tackle international terrorism.




MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTION................................................................1
IMPORTANCE ................................................................................................2
PROBLEMS AND HYPOTHESES ...............................................................4
LITERATURE REVIEW ...............................................................................6
METHODS AND SOURCES .......................................................................12
THESIS OVERVIEW ...................................................................................13


THE BEGINNING OF ALBANIAN-NATO RELATIONS ..................................19

ALBANIA AT THE END OF THE COLD WAR ......................................19
The fall of the Communist Regime in Albania ................................20
The Security Challenges of Albania after the Cold War................23
Albania Joins the NACC ...................................................................26
Albania Joins Partnership for Peace (PfP) ......................................27
1997 Internal Crises, Extremist Islamism and NATOs
Stabilizing Role...................................................................................30
AlbanianNATO Relations during Kosovo Crisis ..........................37
ISLAMIC TERRORISM IN ALBANIA .....................................................39


THE ROADMAP TO NATO INTEGRATION ......................................................43

ALBANIA JOINS MAP ................................................................................44
DEVELOPPING THE STRATEGIC DOCUMENTS ...............................46
ATTACKS ......................................................................................................49
The Prague Summit ...........................................................................56
The Istanbul Summit .........................................................................58
Smalls Arms and Light Weapons Destruction ................................59
The First Country in the World without Chemical Weapons .......61
Border Security and Illegal Trafficking ..........................................61
Albanian Navy-CC MAR Naples Cooperation ...............................64
Participating in Regional Initiatives in the Context of EuroAtlantic Integration ..........................................................................64
Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEEDM). ....................65
NATO-Albania Military Relations intensified ................................68
CONCLUSION ..............................................................................................69


ALBANIA IN NATO .................................................................................................71

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS.......................................................................72
The Costs of NATO Membership .....................................................74
The Benefits of NATO Membership ................................................76




ALBANIA KEEPS ITS PROMISES TO NATO ........................................79

Enhancing Contribution to ISAF .....................................................79
Maintaining a Stable Defense Budget ..............................................81
Passing the Casualty Test ..............................................................82
Consultation with NATO, Warranty for Democracy .....................84
THE WAY AHEAD .......................................................................................86
The Integration Begins ......................................................................86
Developing Niche Capabilities, Single Set of Forces and Smart
Defense ................................................................................................88
The Fight against Terrorism after NATO Membership ................89
CONCLUSION ..............................................................................................91

CONCLUSIONS ........................................................................................................95
PARTNERSHIP WITH AND IN NATO .....................................................95
ALBANIA .......................................................................................................97
RELATIONS? ................................................................................................98

LIST OF REFERENCES ....................................................................................................101

INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST .......................................................................................109




US-Adriatic Charter-3
US-Adriatic Charter-5
Albanian Armed Forces
Allied Command of Transformation
Adriatic-Ionian Initiative
Automatic Identification System
Accession and Integration Working Group
Afghan National Army
Annual National Plan
Black Sea Economic Cooperation
Counter-Proliferation Border Security Counter Terrorism
Maritime Component Command
Central European Initiative
Communication and Information
Civil Military Cooperation
Committee of Experts on Terrorism
Communication Zone West
Crises Response Operations
Congressional Research Service
Department of Defense
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Explosive Ordinance Disposal
European Union
Full Operational Capacity
Force Goals
Gross Domestic Product
Head Quarters
Human Intelligence
International Center for Combatting Illegal Trafficking
Institute for Democracy and Mediation
Islamic Egyptian Jihad
Implementation Force
Humanitarian Islamic Organization
International Monetary Fund
Individual Partnership Programs
International Security Assistance Force
Joint Force Command
Kosovo Force
Kosovo Liberation Army
Membership Action Plan


Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Defense
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Interior
Mobile Training Teams
North Atlantic Council
North Atlantic Cooperation Council
NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Non-Governmental Organization
NATO Head Quarters
National Liberation Army
National Security Strategy
Operation Active Endeavour
Operation Allied Force
Organization of Islamic Conference
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism
Planning and Review Process
Planning and Reviewing Process
Prague Capabilities Commitment
Partnership for Peace
Partnership Goal
Police Operational Mentoring Liaison Team
Peace Support Operations
Regional Cooperation Council
Rapid Reaction Brigade
Small Arms and Light Weapon
Strategic Defense Review
Southeast Europe Brigade
Southeast Europe Cooperation Process
Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial
Secretary General
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Standing NATO Maritime Group 2
United States
United Nations
United Nations Security Council
World Assembly of Muslim Youth
Weapons of Mass Destruction

I am truly in debt and thankful to Dr. Carolyn Halladay, who assisted, supported,
and advised me in every stage of this process. Her tireless engagement was essential to
the completion of this work.
I also would like to thank Prof. Donald Abenheim, whose wisdom, knowledge,
and commitment inspired and motivated me.
I would like to express my gratitude to Admiral Kristaq Gerveni (Ph.D), who
provided valuable insights for this thesis.
I am obliged to Cynthia Graham, Selin and Tolga Koptu, Dorina and Arben
Kullolli, Anila and Elliot Light, Idriz Haxhiaj, Muhammad Ali, Bozenko Devoic,
Samuel Rosales and Elez Shiqerukaj, who stayed close during some of the most difficult
moments of my life.
I owe a lot to my father, Nikolla, and my mother, Ana, who nurtured me with a
love for education and knowledge. I am grateful to my sister, Lorena, whose infinite
trust in me always encourages me.
This thesis would have never been completed without the support, understanding
and patience of my wife, Ani, whose unconditional love has taught me so much about
sacrifice, family, and life.
I owe a sincere and earnest thanks to the U.S. embassy in Albania, the Ministry
of Defense of Albania, and the Albanian Navy for giving me the opportunity to be part
of this excellent experience.
I dedicate this work to my son, Arjon, the treasure of my life.







The September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States affirmed the emergence of

international terrorism as a serious threat to global security in the 21st century. Such
blows clearly demonstrated the risk that large-scale terrorist attacks pose to the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its members. NATOs invocation of Article V,
for the first time in its history, and its subsequent counterterrorism efforts prove that
fighting terrorism is an important issue on the alliances agenda. 1
Albania, a majority-Muslim country in a region exposed to globalization
threats, 2 and at the time a candidate NATO member, aligned immediately with the
United States and the North Atlantic Alliance to fight international terrorism. This
decision reflected a process of political and institutional transformation in Albania that
continues to this dayand that has important implications for both Albania, as a new
NATO member, and the alliance as it faces the counterterrorism challenges of the coming
This thesis intends to explore the effects of NATO policy and practice, throughout
the accession process in the years 1994 until 2009 and later, in shaping and guiding
Albanian counterterrorism efforts. The present project attempts to shed light on such
questions as: What are the implications of NATOs response to terrorism for Albania in
the dimensions of international security, defense and military affairs, as well as domestic
security? What are the implications for the armed forces? How might the future of
Albanias counterterrorism partnership with and in NATO unfold? What lessons can
NATO draw from NATO-Albanian relations to improve partnership with other countries
in the fight against terrorism? All of these questions derive from or at least relate to the
main topic under consideration here, namely: how NATO, as an institution, as a process
1 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATOs Military Concept for Defense Against Terrorism,

(n.d.), http://www.nato.int/ims/docu/terrorism.htm.
2 Teodora Popescu, Tackling Terrorism in the Balkans, (n.d.),

of policy and strategy, and an ideal in political culture, influences the Albanian
counterterrorism response and, by further implication, Albanian strategic culture in the
midst of change.

The transnational nature of international terrorism, the extremist religious context,

the ability of terrorist organizations to continuously adapt and develop, 3 and the potential
for great harm necessitates a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, especially for
smaller states close to the cultural and geographic boundaries that may become
flashpoints of terroristic activity (either attacks or support for distant groupings). In order
to be successful, national counterterrorist efforts require intensive international
cooperation with a variety of security organizations. Albania, especially as the country
endeavors to embed itself in Western norms and institutions, is committed to be an active
player in the regional and international cooperation against terrorism. As Richard Nelson
argues: NATO, [particularly], as a regional security organization [that] fits in between
the broadest-scope efforts orchestrated by the UN and more specific national efforts to
confront terrorism 4 and has a special place in facilitating counterterrorism efforts.
Furthermore, NATO through political consultation and a range of practical measures, 5
provides a promising framework of cooperation for Albania in the fight against terrorism.
Studying the influence that NATO has had in defining Albanias counterterrorism
efforts is very instructive, because the NATO-Albania relationship has undergone
different stages of development since 1992, when Albania joined the North Atlantic
Cooperation Council (NACC) as the first step in Euro-Atlantic integration. Albania
entered Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 1994 and embarked on a course of increased
cooperation and contact with NATO norms and practices that culminated in NATO

3 Bruce Hoffman,Terrorism Trends and Prospects, in Countering the New Terrorism, ed. Ian O.
Lesser et al. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 1999), 737.
4 C. Richard Nelson, NATOs Role in Confronting International Terrorism, Atlantic Council of
United States Policy Paper (June 2004), http://www.goodharbor.net/media/images/books/pdf-NATO-roleconfronting-terrorism.pdf.
5 NATO, The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, (n.d.) http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SIDAE854E09-A88AFF64/natolive/topics_50084.htm .

membership for Albania in 2009. During this period of time, Albania experienced its own
close calls with transnational terrorism, particularly as a locus for money laundering and
other organizational support for Islamic terrorism; it underwent profound democratic
reforms and sweeping changes to its defense institutions and the armed forces in order to
prepare the country to face the new emerging threats.
Ultimately, in support of NATO and especially the alliances increasing
counterterrorism goals, Albania took active part in international efforts against terrorism,
including the deployment of troops in Afghanistan within the NATO International








developments, popular support for NATO membership has remained high in Albania,
hovering at more than 95 percent even today. 6 This number demonstrates a unity of
opinion in Albania that is unusual among new or even established alliance members.
This support, in turn, suggests that Albanians at both the elite and popular levels of
society believe that NATOs response to terrorism is very important to regional and
global security in the wake of newly emerging threats. 7 That is, Albanians, by and large,
conceive of their national security, particularly counterterrorism measures, in connection
with NATOeither directly, as an organization in which Albania participates, or
indirectly, as a matter of implementing NATOs procedures and values.
This research question is important because it analyzes NATOs role in the
counterterrorism efforts of a partner and a member country, a key strategic consideration
today, as well as a good indicator of the state of integration and cooperation within the
alliance, especially its newer members. The impact that NATOs counterterrorism

NATO, NATO Relations with Albania, (n.d.)


To be sure, Albania also participates in the Central European Initiative (CEI), the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII), the Southeast Europe Cooperation
Process (SEECP) and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), all regional-cooperation organizations that
focus, at least in part, on transnational crime in and through the Balkans. Albania also aspires to
membership in the European Union (EU), which entails its own security and counterterrorism measures.
Acknowledging that all the above organizations play complementary roles and help improve the security of
Albania, this thesis focuses on NATO because it is the major security organization. NATO-Albania
relations in the fight against terrorism involved both political and military implications for Albania. NATO
membership, being the major foreign policy objective for Albania since early 1990, became the primary
force driving Albanias efforts to improve the domestic and regional security and to increase regional

strategy has had on the transformation of the Albanian armed forces also provides an
interesting case study of this process of transforming a nations strategic culture through
consequent and consistent institutional association.
A closer look at the bases of the widespread elite and popular support for NATO
in Albania also reveals some insights and implications for future counterterrorism efforts.
The Euro-Atlantic identity that Albanians embraced after the Cold War makes it difficult
for Islamic extremism to spread and gain popular support in the country, which further
contributes to the regions security. Furthermore, Albania, with a Muslim majority and
taking active part in the global fight against terrorism, emphasizes the justice of the cause
and shows that, for example, NATOs operations in Afghanistan do not amount to a war
on a major world religion but rather a war on terrorism in a small band of mass
murderers and criminals. This stance may encourage other Muslim countries to reject
extremism and trust NATOand the West. Of course, an increase of casualties among
Albanian troops participating in counterterrorism operations and the collateral damage
that may happen in areas of operation with Muslim populations may influence Albanian
popular support for such measures and have a backlash effect on the alliance. While
clearly not exhausting the topic, this thesis will touch on several factors that may enhance
or limit the role of Albaniaa majority-Muslim country with a firm Western
orientationin NATO counterterrorism measures. At the heart of these issues is
Albanian strategic culture and its transformation in the course of its association with
NATO, especially as regards the current and urgent concerns of counterterrorism.


This thesis is guided by the hypotheses that NATOs response to terrorism has

had an important impact for Albania in three ways. First, NATOs operations and
presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia was received in Albania as
helping Muslim populations and thus increased even more the strong identification of the
people with liberal-democratic values that the alliance represents. This embrace of
NATOs values, as noted, has made it difficult for religious extremists to spread their
ideology and conduct terrorist activities in Albania.

Second, the continuous political and public support for NATO membership
induced policymakers to show solidarity with the alliance and participate in NATO
operations abroad, 8 while at the same time taking strict domestic measures. As noted
above, Albania contributed troops to support Allied forces in the ISAF in Afghanistan
currently, Albanian troops serve in two ISAF companies in Herat, a platoon in Kabul for
security operations and escorts, and a special company in combat operation in Kandahar. 9
Since 2008, the Albanian Navy has participated in Operation Active Endeavour, NATOs
ongoing presence in the Mediterranean. 10 In addition, aspiring membership in NATO and
EU, Albania has achieved significant progress in implementing reforms in the political,
economic, military, and juridical realms, as well as in combating corruption, organized
crime, trafficking, and terrorism. 11 In addition, Albania undertook strict measures to
tackle terrorist financing and support activities inside the country by adopting
counterterrorism legislation and developing interagency action plans.
Finally, a NATO report indicates that during the period leading up to accession,
NATO had been involving Albania in Alliance activities to the greatest extent possible
and continued to provide support and assistance, including through the Membership
Action Plan. 12 Albania participated in the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism,
sharing intelligence and analysis with NATO, enhancing national counter-terrorist
capabilities and improving border security. 13 Furthermore the Albanian Armed Forces
were reformed following NATOs recommendations through the Planning and
Reviewing Process in order to achieve interoperability with NATO forces and to face

NATO, NATO Relations with Albania, (n.d.)


Ministry of Defense of Albania, The Contingent EAGLE 2 Departs in Mission to Kandahar,

Afghanistan, (n.d.) http://www.mod.gov.al/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=948:nisetper-mision-ne-kandahar-afganistan-konigjenti-eagle-2&catid=42:lajme&Itemid=52&lang=en.



Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Albania and Map, (n.d)

http://www.mfa.gov.al/index.php?option=com_multicategories&view=article&id=5735%3Ashqiperia-dhemap&Itemid=65&lang=en (accessed May 7, 2011).

NATO, NATO-Albania Relationship, (n.d.) http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_48891.htm

(accessed May 10, 2011).


more effectively the new threats. These reforms have reverberated through Albanias
defense institutions, magnifying the effects and entrenching them in the very fabric of the
nations strategic culture.
In sum, NATO-Albanian relations in the counterterrorism realm suggest NATOs
ability to promote constructive cooperation and to wage the war of ideas, which are
two important fronts in the war on terror. 14 Thus, NATO membership has effected
meaningful changes in Albanias national counterterrorism policy and practices which
this study hopes to interpret in detail.

The literature addresses NATO-Albanian relations in the fight against terrorism as

part of the broader assessment of NATO enlargement, strategic gains and NATO
membership efforts of Albania. The literature, while noting the Albanian support to
NATOs fight against terrorism, the contribution of Albania in NATO operations, and
Albanian efforts to tackle domestic terrorism, does not provide in depth analysis of the
evolution of this relation. There is a gap in the literature in addressing in detail the
dynamics of NATO-Albania relations in the fight against terrorism. I will fill this gap by
looking at NATO-Albanian relations, focusing on the fight against terrorism.
The literature reviewed also reveals the need for a comprehensive approach to
international terrorism. While there is agreement about the need to improve international
cooperation to address twenty-first century security threats, especially the threat of
terrorism, there are different views on what NATO can really do in the fight against
terrorism. However, the literature shows that NATO partnership programs and initiatives
may play an important role in fostering cooperation and improving security. Studies of
some partner countries and new members show NATOs role in reforming the Albanian
military has been effective and positive, but there is a need to address specifically the role
of NATO in shaping their counterterrorist efforts. As the U.S. Congressional Research
Service noted in 2005:


Daniel Byman, The Five Front War (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), 173-190.

In the longer term, efforts to stabilize the region and thereby perhaps
reduce its attractiveness to terrorists are also dependent upon integrating it
into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Euro-Atlantic integration for the region
may encourage these countries to take steps that will enable them to more
effectively fight terrorism. 15
Hendrickson et al., assessed Albanias effortswhile campaigning aggressively
for NATO membership, in terms of modernization of the armed forces, the status of its
military capabilities, and its steps to combat global terrorismand found that NATO
has been an important catalyst for achieving progress in these fields. 16 Hans van den
Berg explains, On the road towards NATO membership, Albania has made significant
and tangible steps in implementing reforms in the political, economic, military and
juridical areas, as well as in combating corruption, organized crime, illegal trafficking
and terrorism. 17 Indeed, Albania took strict measures against terrorism because while
aspiring for NATO membership it [could] not afford to be accused of being a safe haven
for terrorists or of not doing enough to prevent terrorism. 18 A later study, conducted
when Albania became a member, suggests that Albania has made considerable efforts to
transform itself in a security producer by making measurable military advancements
and bringing meaningful geo-strategic advantages to the Alliance. 19 Asymmetric
threats, like terrorism, with which NATO deals today, require changes in the strategies
and capabilities of NATO members. Albania changed its military strategy to reflect the
new threats and plans to develop niche capabilities accordingly in the modernization
plan of 20072012. 20 The Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) 2010
U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, Intelligence Issues for Congress, by
Richard A. Best Jr., CRS Report RL33539 (Washington, DC: Office of Congressional Information and
Publishing, June 1, 2010).

Ryan C. Hendrickson et al., Albania and NATOs Open Door Policy: Alliance Enlargement and
Military Transformation, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 19:2 (2006): 243.

Hans A. van den Berg, Albania into NATO: Once Building Bunkers, Now Building Bridges,
Atlantisch Perspectief, no. 3 (2009) http://www.atlcom.nl/site/Publicaties/wpcontent/AP%202009%20nr.%203.pdf.

Damian Gjiknuri, Albanias Counter Terrorism-Terrorism Policy Options: Finding a Strategy of

Common Sense (masters thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 2004), 1.

Hendrickson et.al. Albania and NATOs Open Door Policy 243.


Mariola Qesaraku, ed., Costs and Benefits of NATO Membership: Albanian and Regional
Challenges after the Bucharest Summit, Institute for Democracy and Mediation,

report on Albanian counter-terrorist capacity notes that Partnership Action Plan against
Terrorism launched by NATO and partners in 2002 improved intelligence-sharing and
cooperation in areas such as border security, terrorism-related training and exercises, and
the development of capabilities for defense against terrorist attack or for dealing with the
consequences of such an attack. 21 In sum, the literature shows that NATO brought about
or encouraged positive changes in Albanian political-military institutions.
The end of the Cold War was accompanied by fundamental changes in the global
security environment. As Alexandra Gheciu observes, While conventional dangers were
declining there was a corresponding increase in the probability of a different,
multifaceted and hard to contain type of risk. 22 In its 1999 Strategic Concept, NATO
had already identified terrorism as a threat to the alliance, but after the September 11
attacks, the fight against terrorism became, in the words of Lord Robertson, NATOs
secretary general at the time, front and centera main focus of our activities. 23 As
NATOs missions expanded to include counterterrorist tasks, the extent, the
effectiveness, and even the efficacy of NATOs contribution to the war on terror has
become the center of ongoing debates. The literature about the role that NATO may play
in combating international terrorism reflects this controversy.
Some scholars doubt whether NATO is an appropriate institution for
counterterrorism efforts. For example, trying to define the fronts of war on terrorism,
counterterrorism expert Byman suggests that alliances might be unsuccessful in the war
against terrorism. He advances the idea that counterterrorism efforts are more productive
when accomplished in bilateral settings, rather than on a multilateral footing. 24 He also
doubts the effectiveness of intelligence sharing on multilateral basis.


European Council Committee of Experts on Terrorism, Profiles on Counter Terrorist Capacity:

Albania, July 2010,

Alexandra Gheciu, NATO in the New Europe (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), 60.


Lord Robertson, Tackling Terror: NATOS New Mission (speech by NATO Secretary General at
the American Enterprise Institutes New Atlantic Initiative in Washington, DC, June 20, 2002)

Byman, The Five Front War, 205.

Similarly, Foster and Wallace argue that the formulation of a broad response to
the challenges posed by transnational terrorism is beyond NATOs capabilities or its
appropriate functions. 25 In their opinion, because the European Union (EU) and the G-8
group of leading economies are in a better position to develop networks of interagency
cooperation, which are essential in dealing with transnational terrorism, there is no need
to transform NATO into an anti-terrorist alliance.
De Nevers notes that NATOs missions have increased dramatically since the
end of the Cold War. 26 Nonetheless, she concludes that NATO has merely a supporting
role in fighting international terrorism. She points out that many of the essential
activities of the fight against terrorism occur outside NATO, through bilateral
cooperation or loose coalitions of the willing. 27 Bebler arrives at the same conclusion
about the supportive role of NATO in fighting terrorism. He analyzes such constraints on
the alliance as, legal frameworks, the decision-making process, and military capabilities
and concludes that NATO is not well-suited to effectively counter the threat of
transnational terrorism.
On the other hand, many studies on the topic have put forward a more positive
assessment of the role of NATO in fighting terrorism. Ellis, after making an analytical
survey of the literature on counterterrorism strategies, suggests that NATO can play an
important role on four main realms being, diplomacy, military operations, intelligencesharing, and defence cooperation. 28 In the same vein, the U.S. Atlantic Councils 2005
Policy Paper on NATOs role in confronting terrorism provides a comprehensive
framework of the functions for which the alliance is suitable. The tasks include
generating political will, providing intelligence, managing coordination and integration
efforts, interdicting terrorist recruitment, financing, supply and operations, preventing


Anthony Foster and William Wallace, What is NATO for? Survival 43:4 (2001):107.


Anton Bebler, NATO and Transnational Terrorism, Perceptions 9:4 (Winter 2004 2005):159.


Renee de Nevers, NATOs International Security Role in the Terrorist Era, International Security,
31:4 (2007): 34.

Brent Ellis, If Its Not Terrorism, Its Not Relevant: Evaluating NATOs Potential to Contribute to
the Campaign against Terrorism, NPSIA Occasional Paper no. 41, (2003), 9,
http://www.carleton.ca/csds/docs/occasional_papers/npsia-41.pdf .

terrorist operations, managing the consequences of terrorist attacks and arranging security
assistance. 29 The paper puts forward that NATO has a comparative advantage in these
tasks over such other international organizations as the UN and the EU. Specifically, the
paper finds that NATO can offer more than an only-military response to terrorism.
Many scholars think that global terrorism should be addressed within the realm of
international cooperation, which forms one of NATOs stronger suits. As Miguel Angel
Ballesteros argues: NATO, due to its infrastructure, experience, and the characteristics
of its members, seems to be the best equipped international organization to do this.30
Lord Robertson emphasizes the need for international cooperation in the fight against
terrorism and argues that a permanent coalition is better than a temporary one. An
interoperable coalition is better than an incapable one. A value-sharing coalition is better
than a coalition of convenience. And a NATO coalition is better than anything else.31
Gheciu reinforces this idea, arguing that based on the alliances long tradition of building
trust among the members, NATO is able to build the kind of network of domestic and
international agencies across the Euro-Atlantic area that is needed in the comprehensive
struggle against the new enemies to Western values and way of life. 32 Moreover, Nelson
writes that NATO has the potential, as it did during the Cold War, to offer an attractive,
positive vision of diversity, tolerance and progress beneath its security umbrella that
could make a valuable contribution to the overall confrontation with international
terrorists. 33
At issue, in part, is NATOs own transformation amid the changed circumstance
of the postCold War era. For example, Asmus, too, recognizes the importance of the

C. Richard Nelson, NATOs Role in Confronting International Terrorism, Atlantic Council of

United States Policy Paper (June 2004): 14, http://www.goodharbor.net/media/images/books/pdf-NATOrole-confronting-terrorism.pdf .

Miguel Angel Ballesteros, Natos Role in the Fight against International Terrorism (translated
from Spanish),
pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=e9bf71004f018677baa8fe3170baead1(accessed May 10, 2011).
Speech by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, Tackling Terror: NATOS New Mission
http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2002/s020620a.htm .

Gheciu, NATO in the New Europe, 249.


Nelson, NATOs Role in Confronting International Terrorism, 11.


alliance in the war on terrorism, but at the same time, he emphasizes that NATO should
continue to transform so that it could be as effective in meeting the threats of the future
as it had been in helping win the Cold War. 34 He suggests that NATO enlargement plays
a positive role in achieving peace and security.
NATO enlargement, it is argued, contributes to the twenty-first century struggle
against instability and terrorism. 35 Such institutions as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council (EAPC), PfP, the NATO-Russia Council, and the Mediterranean Dialogue,
which NATO developed since the early 1990s to facilitate enlargement process and
increase cooperation with partner countries, provide a good framework of cooperative
security, which contributes significantly to combating terrorism.


For example,

immediately after the September 11 attacks, EAPC defense ministers affirmed their
determination to utilize the partnership to increase cooperation and capabilities against
terrorism. 37 The EAPC adopted the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, which
asks partners to improve counterterrorism efforts at home and increase cooperation by
sharing information and experience. 38 In addition, partner countries, including Albania,
made substantial contributions to ISAF in Afghanistan. 39 Certainly, NATOs engagement
of and in counterterrorism has moved its member states, including Albania, toward a
consensus on the appropriate policies and measures for counterterrorism. The Atlantic
Council Policy Paper suggests that NATOs response to terrorism is partly responsible
for the fact that terrorism has now become a high priority consideration on the national
security agendas of countries directly affiliated with NATO, including those taking part

Ronald D. Asmus, Opening NATOs Door (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 305.


Ryan C. Hendrickson et. al., NATO Membership For Albania And Croatia: Military
Modernization, Geo-Strategic Opportunities And Force Projection The Journal of Slavic Military Studies,
22:4, (2009): 502.

Ellis, If Its Not Terrorism, Its Not Relevant, 9.


Jeffrey Simon, Partnership for Peace: Charting a Course for a New Era, Strategic Forum, no. 206
(March 2004), 2, http://dodreports.com/pdf/ada422608.pdf.

Simon,Partnership for Peace, 2.


According to NATO 11 PfP countries had almost 2,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan, as of
August 2010. Source: United States Government Accountability Office, DOD Needs to Assess U.S.
Assistance in Response to Changes to the Partnership for Peace Program, Report to the Chairman,
Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, September 2010,


in its Partnership for Peace and Mediterranean Dialogue. 40 According to the same
source, Partnership for Peace is a useful tool to improve partner countries capacities to
address terrorism. NATO, based on the close relations developed through PfP, is able to
cooperate with partner countries on security issues related to the fight against
international terrorism. 41 This cooperation covers a wide range of activities, including the
Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism adopted by NATO in 2002. 42


I intend to use the detailed case study method as the basic analytic approach of

contemporary history to the research question, with Albania providing the case by which
to study the ways that NATO can help shape a new members strategic culture. While the
specifics of Albanias experience, at one level, reflect their time and place, the general
trends and developments in Albanias transformation, particularly in the fraught realm of
counterterrorism, and offer important insights into the internal and external workings of
the alliance. Albania was selected because NATOs effects and effectiveness in different
stages and aspects of NATO-Albanian relations could be analyzed.
I will analyze Albanias counterterrorism efforts in light of NATO-Albanian
relations. In so doing, I will focus my analysis on three elements: public attitudes, policy,
and defense institutions. These three elements ably capture both the depth and the breadth
of the transformation of Albanian strategic culture since 1990 in association with NATO.
The narrower focus on counterterrorism allows for more detailed attention to the forces
that shape these elements. The object of this analysis is less to document every policy
statement or media utterance in some effort to quantify the process of NATO-izing
Albanian national counterterrorism policy and practice. Instead, I propose a broader
approach that emphasizes points of interconnection and change. In this analysis, a
particular focus is placed on the ramifications of these links to the future of Albania and
its role in the Alliance.

Nelson,NATOs Role in Confronting International Terrorism, 14.


Russell D. Howard, Thinking Creatively In The War On Terrorism: Leveraging NATO and the
Partnership For Peace Consortium, Connections (Spring 2005): 25.



I make use of both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include
NATO communiqus, NATO main documents such as strategic concepts, military
concepts, partnership and accession documents, national strategies, action plans and
official public statements. Secondary sources include analytical articles, media reports,
and scholarly works related to the research question. A big portion of the material that I
will use is from Albanian sources, which provide an Albanian point of view on the
research question.
Overall, this thesis will proceed in a chronological manner guided by a
contemporary history method of analysis. This approach will reveal most clearly the steps
and stages of the transformation of Albanias national counterterrorism policy (and its
strategic culture) as it developed; after all, the process forms a central part of this
analysis. Additionally, a chronology will allow me to cover the wide range of topics that
fill out the categories of popular support, policy, and defense institutionsand that
connect them to one anotherin the most straightforward manner, highlighting the major
and minor turning points.

The thesis is organized as a chronological examination of Albanias relations with

NATO in the realm of counterterrorism since the collapse of Albanias Cold War
communist government in 1990. Following the introductory chapter, which explains the
thesis and its main research question, methodology, and relevant background literature,
each subsequent chapter encapsulates a particular stage in the NATO-Albanian
relationship, focusing on the counterterrorism context particular to each period. Chapter
II covers Albanias pre-NATO yearsfrom 1990, when the country first opened (or
reopened) to the world after decades of a repressive communist regime, to the eve of
Albania joining NATOs Membership Action Plan in 1999. In this period, Albania first
withstood an exodus of people to other European countries amid doubts about the
countrys future prospects. However, anti-communists prevailed in the countrys
democratic elections in 1992, and the task of rebuilding and reorienting Albania began in
earnest. Officially, Albania retained (and retains) its secular footing, but the communistera ban on religious worship was overturned in these years. With a clear Muslim majority

(around 70 percent of the population), Albania attracted attention from Islamic states, as
well as its European neighbors. In this early phase, most of these contacts were
benevolentIslamic NGOs took up charity work in the country, while young Albanians
were sent to Islamic countries for religious education. However, some Islamic extremist
organizations also began to establish themselves in Albania, using the country mostly to
launder money or otherwise support their activities elsewhere. In other words, the threat
of Islamic extremism in Albania became real at this time. Albanias Western orientation
also came more clearly into relief, however. Albania was one of the first former
communist countries to express interest in joining NATO, and in 1992, it joined the
North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). Public support ran very high, as did
political cohesion. Joining NATO became a major political goal in this period, and this
ambition, with elite and popular support, shaped the succeeding stages of Albanias
In 1994 Albania joined PfP and NATO-Albanian relationship saw Albanias first
official steps toward NATO as an institution and a community of values, despite the
ongoing turmoil of domestic reform. With the countrys membership in PfP, Albania
initiated military and defense-sector reforms in accordance with the program. In 1997,
however, this progress was nearly undone by a popular uprising that was caused by the
collapse of some financial pyramid schemes that swept away the savings of Albanians.
The Albanian state disintegrated amid the turmoil. Military depots were looted by the
population and the weapons and explosives fell into civilian handssome of them
members of criminal bands. Lawlessness and gangsterism flourished. In April 1997, the
UN mandated a multinational protection force led by Italy to secure the delivery of
humanitarian aid to Albania. 43 The newly elected government was quick to approach to
NATO. The ministry of defense sent an official request for NATO support in rebuilding
the armed forces. 44 NATO, in the framework of PfP, approved an Individual Action


George Katsirdakis, Albania: A Case Study in the Practical Implementation of Partnership for
Peace, NATO Review, vol 46, no. 2, (Summer 1998): 23 http://www.nato.int/docu/review/1998/9802

Ibid., 22.


Plan which envisaged both NATO and bilateral assistance from NATO allies. 45 By 1999,
with the NATO operation in Kosovo, public support in Albania for the alliance reached
another high point.
Chapter III explores the next stage in Albanias relationship with NATO, namely
the momentous years from 1999, when Albania became a MAP country, through the
signing of NATOs Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T) and the NATO
military concept for defense against terrorism in 2002. It proceeds with the penultimate
phase of NATO-Albanian relations, from 2003 to 2008, during which Albanias
integration of and in NATOs counterterrorism framework moved from mostly planning
to implementation, with major domestic and international operations and exercises.
This period is characterized by the deepening involvement of NATO in Albania
and vice-versa, even as the alliance instituted new measures specifically in the realm of
counterterrorism as the Global War on Terror began to take shape. In 2001, NATO
Headquarters Tirana was established to help Albania with military reforms and
partnership goals. Then, came the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States
and NATOs subsequent invocation of Article 5. Albania aligned itself formally and
publically with NATO and the United States. Terrorismand, as a consequence,
counterterrorismassumes an increasingly prominent role in alliance planning and
policy. In 2001 the Ministry of Defense of Albania issued the Membership Action Plan,
which included many objectives to improve the internal and external security. One of
them was to increase compliance and participation in international efforts to fight
terrorism and organized crime in relation to the participation of Albania in the
antiterrorist coalition of states. 46 One of the earliest indications of this shift came in
2002, when NATO inked the PAP-T. The agreement covered such areas as political
consultation, partnership goals against terrorism, intelligence sharing, civil emergency
planning, terrorism financing, border controls, and so on. 47 In other words, the PAP-T

Ibid., 2226.


Enika Abazi, Defense Reform of the Albanian Armed Forces: Democratization and
Transformation, (n.d.), http://www.ciaonet.org/olj/co/co_sep04/co_sep04c.pdf.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization,The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, March 5,
2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50084.htm (accessed May 12, 2011).


specifically extended NATO methods to the realm of counterterrorism. NATOs Military

Concept for Defense against Terrorism followed the same year. Albania responded with
its own national counterterrorism action plan in 2002 and the adoption of various
counterterrorism goals in line with the NATO documents. In 2003, the country adopted a
law against terrorism and froze the assets of Islamist organizations linked to al Qaeda
where only a decade or so earlier, such entities operated more or less as they liked in
Albania. This point suggests just how Albanias association with NATO had already
helped reshape the countrys views on and measures against terrorism.
In 2003, Albanian forces deploy in support of the NATO-led ISAF force in
Afghanistan, arguably the largest show of allied counterterrorism measures. In 2004, the
discovery of a cache of chemical weapons, which had been acquired by Albanias old
communist regime during the 1970s, brought home (again) concerns about terrorism.
Undocumented or poorly secured weapons caches could be exploited by terrorists with
deadly effect. 48 That same year, the Albanian governments National Security Strategy
acknowledged terrorism as a major threat; subsequently, the 2005 National Military
Strategy focused on Albanias fight against terrorism. Between 2005 and 2007, three
major exercisesCooperative Engagement (2005), Cooperative Longbow (2007), and
Cooperative Lancer (2007)were conducted in Albania. Among the objectives of these
exercises was achieving interoperability in the fight against terrorism. In 2007, the
Albanian Navy joined operation Active Endeavor, NATOs ongoing operation in the
Mediterranean, sharing information about the maritime domain. Albania was invited to
join NATO in 2008, capping this period of extensive cooperation, internally and
international, in counterterrorism, as well as other alliance security concerns.
Chapter IV brings the story of Albanias transformation within NATO up to date,
including Albanias formal accession to alliance membership in 2009. It analyzes the
state of Albanias transformed armed forcesnow a completely professional military

Joby Warrick, Albanias Chemical Cache Raises Fears about Others, Washington Post, January
10, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A616982005Jan9?language=printer.
Albania destroyed its chemical weapons stock in 2007, becoming the first country in the world
without chemical weapons. The program was financed by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction


as well as such indications of ongoing change as the pending changes to Albanias

National Security Strategy, in light of NATOs 2010 strategic concept. Assessing the
developments within Albanias national counterterrorism response, specifically as NATO
has shaped them, this chapter concludes that, in the case of Albania, NATO was
successful in fighting international terrorism through the partnership program, just as
Albania succeeded in aligning its national counterterrorism response with NATO
standards and requirements. These changes were sufficiently accepted sufficiently early
that they even withstood the near collapse of the country amid popular uprising in 1997.
(In this connection, Albanias incentives to cooperate may inform any revisions of
NATOs Partnership Action Plan to promote effective cooperation.) Today, it seems that
these NATO-informed counterterrorism measures are widely viewed in Albania as key to
the countrys ongoing stability and security. While such eventualities as major losses of
Albanian lives in Afghanistan could diminish Albanians general contentment with their









counterterrorism institutions speaks to a real and lasting shift in its strategic culture
through the ongoing NATO-Albania engagement.
The final chapter draws conclusions, about the implications of NATOs response
to terrorism for Albania in the dimensions of international security, defense and military
affairs, as well as domestic security. It considers some implications for the armed forces
and brings in some consideration on how the future of Albanias counterterrorism
partnership with and in NATO might unfold. At the chapters offers some
recommendation to improve NATO-s partnership with other countries in the fight against






This chapter explores Albanian-NATO relations starting from the end of the Cold
War, which brought to the end the harsh communist regime and marked the beginning of
the relations between Albania and NATO, until 1999, just before Albania became a
Membership Action Plan country, institutionalizing further these relations. This period of
time is very important in the development of NATO-Albania relations because of the
events and the decisions that paved a positive direction for this relationship. The chapter
begins with an analysis of the situation in Albania in the postCold-War environment and
an examination of the challenges and the threats that emerged with the demise of
communism and the transition to democracy. In these years of drastic change and
reorientation, new threats emerged to national and regional security: Islamic terrorism,
weak institutions, domestic political instability, irredentism, and regional instability. As
this chapter shows, Albanias increasingly close relationship with NATO provided not
only the external requirements but the internal motivation for Tirana to undertake a
democratically inflected, western-oriented, and stability-enhancing response to these
As such, this chapter turns specifically to the role of Albanian-NATO relations,
the platforms of cooperation (such as NACC and PfP), the assistance of NATO in
overcoming the internal crisis of 1997, and the cooperation with NATO in the resolution
of the most acute Kosovo crises, all of which helped build mutual trust and partnership.
Albanias ensuing aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration and cooperation, amid
NATOs active engagement in the region, played a major role in preventing international
terrorism from gaining a foothold in Albania.


The end of the Cold War thrust Albania out of its self-imposed isolationand

into a rapidly unraveling Balkan region, while the multi-faith state grappled with
democratization, economic restructuring, border disputes, mass migrations, and notalways-friendly interest from other states in and beyond the region. The West provided

one model of the future for Albanians but, at least in the first years after the fall of the
communist regime, certainly not the only one.

The fall of the Communist Regime in Albania

During the communist regime, Albania was one of the most isolated countries in

the world. After leaving the Warsaw Pact in 1968, and after breaking the relations with
China in 1978 over disagreements about communist orthodoxy, Albania found itself in a
strategic vacuum. 49 The old government militarized the country and lavished already
scarce resources on territorial defense. The national defense strategy, such that it was,
aimed to repel any aggression from neighboring countries, NATO, or the Warsaw Pact
through extensive permanent fortifications and total mobilization of the population.
These plans reflected the official paranoia that suffused the communist regime. Between
1976 and 1982, the government built 350,000 fortified concrete elementsbunkersthat
were planted all over the country. (As a result, Albanians faced severe housing shortages
for many years because the cost of constructing a single bunker was almost equal to the
cost of an apartment house.) 50 The total defense envisaged massive armed forces
numbering about 120,000 active duty personnel, while 500,000 reservists (in a country
with a population at the time of perhaps 2.8 million) could be mobilized on short order.
Fearing a military coup as much as an attack from outside, the regime also decentralized
the military, dispersing it a large number of small installations all over the country. It also
exercised fierce political control over the military elite. 51
The strategy of isolation also spoke to the regimes ambitions to create a new
identity for Albanians based on true communist ideology. While all outside influences
were suspect, the regime was especially keen to cut Albanians ties with the Western
world, whose values were seen as anti-communist. However, forty-five years of reprisals


Adem Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture, NATO
Review, no. 2, l, 44 (March 1996), 24-28, http://www.nato.int/docu/review/1996/96026.htm.



The military elite were often put under accusation of betrayal of the political line of the Party and
were punished by the communist regime. In 1974 the communist regime executed the ministry of defense,
the chief of staff and other generals on the grounds of working for foreign powers and jeopardizing the
development of the military. None of them accepted the accusation.


and propaganda were not enough to extinguish in Albanians the desire to be part of the
Western community. For many years, most Albanians secretly watched Italian TV with
homemade receivers. As one Albania scholar put it: To many Albanians living under the
countrys communist regime, Italy was a symbol of freedom and the West, and Italian
radio and TV broadcasts were the most important way in which Albanians were exposed
to the West. 52 Thus did Albanians keep alive their hopes for a regime changeand
In July 1990, some 5,000 people challenged the regime and entered the western
embassies in Tirana, asking for political asylum. This event, in fact, came as a big blow
to the legitimacy of the communist regime, which, with the wind of democracy in the
Eastern Europe at its back, had promised liberalization and was trying to portray the
situation in Albania as under control. In March of 1991, after a dubious but nonetheless
multiparty election, the regime grudgingly began to honor this promise, implementing
some democratic reformsmaking Albania the last European state to do so. In June, the
first opposition government took office, led by a former communist. Ten days later,
James Baker paid an official visit to Tirana, the first visit of a U.S. Secretary of State to
Albania. Baker was welcomed by crowds of thousandsthe New York Times reported a
sea of Albanians 53who gathered in the main square of the capital to listen to his
famous words, Freedom works. 54
Arguably, even these modest steps sufficed to whetbut not slakeAlbanians
desire for reform and westernization. In August 1991, around 300,000 Albanians fled
dramatically to Italy across the Adriatic on improvised and overloaded boats. Before,
Europe knew very little of its Albanian neighbors; suddenly, in their poverty and
desperation, they appeared as a potential wave of refugees from a collapsing Balkan state.
In December 1991, amid worsening economic straits and widespread social unrest, the
Kosta Barjaba, Albania: Looking beyond Borders, Migration Information Source, August 2004,

300,000 Albanians Pour into Streets to Welcome Baker, The New York Times, June 23, 1991.

Norman Kempster, Albanians Mob Baker, Cheer U.S : Europe: Freedom Works, He Exhorts a
Rally of 200,000, Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1991 http://articles.latimes.com/19910623/news/mn2067_1_albanian-economy.


coalition government that had greeted Secretary Baker collapsed. Elections were called
for March of 1992; in the interim, the government was headed by a non-communist
independent. 55
In these slightly delayed 1992 elections, the Democratic Party won a landslide
victory finally ending the more than four decades of communist rule in Albania. The new
government adopted an open policy toward the world, seeking enthusiastically to
improve the international relations that almost had not existed since the end of World
War II. Although there was an inclination to prioritize the relations with the West,
Albania sought close relations with the Islamic countries as well.
Muslims make up the biggest religious community in Albania, composing around
70 percent of the population. During the communist regime, all practice of religion was
banned, clerics were decapitated, and mosques, churches, and monasteries were
destroyed to extirpate religion from Albanian lives. Religion was eventually legalized
after 1991, but it faced major financial problems in rebuilding congregationsand the
infrastructure of worshipas well as in educating new clerics. Despite burgeoning
interest in religious practice among Albanias young Muslims, the Albanian Muslim
community suffered from all these legacy issues, as well. 56 In 1992 Albania joined the
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC is the collective voice of the
Muslim world [which aims] to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in
the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the
world. 57 Membership marked an avenue by which Albania hoped to address the needs of
its Muslim majority. It also opened the road for many Islamic organizations to press into


Parliamentary Chamber of Albania, Elections held in 1992, April, 1992,


Artan Hoxha, Miliona Dollar pr t Marr Komunitetin Mysliman, Gazeta Shqiptare, January 16,
2008, http://www.acnss.com/html/intervista/VEHABISELEFIZMI%20GODET%20DEMOKRACINE%20DHE%20IDENTITETIN%20TONE%20KOMBETA

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, (n.d.), http://www.oic-oci.org/page_detail.asp?p_id=52.



The Security Challenges of Albania after the Cold War

The end of the cold war and the demise of the communist regime brought a

completely new security situation for Albania. The new threatsmore acute than the old
governments paranoid fantasiesincluded serious economic problems inherited from
the failure of the centralized economy system and its primitive industry, a vacuum in the
legal framework, and weak institutions. Such phenomena, unknown before, as organized
crime, corruption 58, and illegal trafficking, began to bloom. The creation of a new
economic system and the process of rebuilding state institutions had to take place
simultaneously. 59
This process needed guidance, assistance, and support from beyond Albanias
borders. Western investors were reluctant to sink money or effort in Albania because of
the uncertainties of its reforms and transition to democracy. This circumstance, in turn,
also informed Albanias joining the OIC, perhaps in the hope that membership would
attract investment from oil-rich Islamic countries out of common religious ties. Indeed,
after Albania joined the OIC, the government also suspended all visas requirements for
Islamic countries. Islamic entrepreneurs came, but not all of them aiming to resuscitate
Albanias trade and infrastructure. A lot of Muslims from Arabic Countries came to
Albania to revive Islam, some of whom were suspected by the Albanian intelligence
service and Western Intelligence Agencies as Islamic terrorists. 60

Islamic NGOs

financed hospitals, aqueducts, orphanages, and other amenities for the pooras well as
the construction of 400 new mosques and eight madrasahs. In addition, they provided
scholarships and financial assistance to young Albanians to study theology at Arab


Corrupt tendencies existed during the communist regime, too. In fact, their roots go back to the
Ottoman rule in Albania. However, the transition period associated with weak democratic institutions and
lawlessness opened unprecedented opportunities for the new ruling elites to get very rich very quickly, if
not exactly fairly or legally.

Albert Rakipi, Weak States & Security: Rethinking the Balkan Post-Cold War Security Agenda
(Tirana: Albanian Institute for International Studies, 2008), 103.

Artan Hoxha, Si erdhn n Shqipri Terroristt e Xhihadit, Gazeta Shqiptare, January 16, 2008.


universities. These students came back to Albania with a more radicalized form of Islam,
which was opposite of the liberal Islam traditionally practiced by Albanians. 61
The new democratic state, facing widespread corruption and lax border control,
lacked the will, structure, and experience to investigate the activities of charity
organizations and extremist groups that poured into Albania. Some Islamic organizations
took advantage of this situation to promote their extremist religious objectives under the
guise of fostering the Albanian economy. Extremist Islamism could have posed a real
threat not only to religious tolerance and the peaceful coexistence of the religious
communities in Albania, but also to the aspirations of the country for Euro-Atlantic
integrationto say nothing of the security and stability of Europes Balkan flank.
Indeed, the Balkan connection made the issue of Islam in Albania even more
urgentfor both Tirana and the West. In particular, the atrocities committed by
Milosevics regime against the Albanians of Kosovo brought to the forefront the
Albanian national cause, which had been seriously subvertedbut not divertedduring
the communist regime. As Rakipi aptly puts it, Kosovo, like other Albanian territories,
was not a target of Albanian state policy. 62 Although, as history reveals, Albania never
embraced irredentism as a state policy, post-Cold War events called for a regional role
for Albania. Now, Albania is the mother state of a nation, of which fully half of the
members (ethnic Albanians outside Albania) live in three other border countriesin a
region infamous for its ethnic conflicts. On the one hand, then, Albania bears some
responsibility for defending the rights of ethnic Albanians as a national obligation; on the
other hand, the new democracy had a responsibility to itself and its neighbors to maintain
peace and stability in the region.


Strikingly, Albania realized that unilateral action


There prevails a specific culture of religious harmony and co-existence in Albania, which owes to
the purposeful policies of the founders of the modern Albanian state in the nineteenth century. Based on
this cosmopolitanism, updated from the heyday of the Hellenistic world, the four main religious
communities present in Albania have had good relations with each other. Everywhere you go in Albania,
people speak of the countrys tradition of religious tolerance and that there is complete harmony between
the different faiths. Inter-faith marriages are very common, and Albanians like to celebrate religious days
together. In the absence of formal Islamic education during the communist regime, Albanians inherited
from their families the Islamic traditions intertwined with Albanian culture of religious tolerance. The
extremist religious type of Islam that the Islamic organizations attempted to introduce to the country was
very different from the Albanian religious culture.

Rakipi, Weak States & Security: Rethinking the Balkan Post-Cold War Security Agenda, 97.


Ethnic Albanians live in Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.


would achieve neither goalnor would irredentist policies. The national cause could be
better served in the context of international cooperation, in which Albania had to build a
credible positive profile.
Last, but not least, the Albanian people needed confidence that the communist
regime would not come back again. The best guarantee was to ensure the people that the
future of the country would be within the community that defeated communism, the
Euro-Atlantic community.
For all of these reasonsthe specter of Islamist extremism, the fractious lure of
irredentism, and the shadow of a communist resurgenceEuro-Atlantic integration
became the major foreign policy objective of Albania. Presently, whole-hearted
westernization achieved the absolute consensus of all political forces and support from
almost the entire population. 64 In other words, Albanians believed that the benefits of
NATO membership would outweigh its costs.


Being part of Euro-Atlantic alliance entails sharing the democratic values and

principles with western countries. This stance promotes democratic reform and free
economy, improves the image of the country in the world, and creates guarantees for t
foreign investors. Furthermore, instead of maintaining a massive army, which drained
national resources in the name of exaggerated territorial defense, westernization means
developing a modern, professional military to contribute to collective defense. Next,
being part of such a prestigious security organization as NATO improves the reputation
and the image of the country in its international relations, particularly in connection with
the rights of ethnic Albanians beyond the national borders. At the same time, this
approach makes national movements less feasible by channeling the nationalist energies
and attentions of Albanians into successful, multilateral and international models, rather
than revanchism or extremism. Because the western Balkans also aspired to join NATO,


Despite the fact that Albanian public support to NATO was never measured in a referendum or a
large scale poll there has been a unanimous acceptance that it goes well beyond 90% having the consensus
of both major political parties.


cooperation and trust among neighbor countries increases, promoting peace and stability
in the region. In the words of Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano:
Albanias governing policy, as well as our foreign policy, is to try to
prevent a security vacuum from returning to our region, since that would
mean a return to the ugly past of totalitarianism and national conflicts. To
that end, we are ridding ourselves of the ghosts of the past and are
working to build a society that responds to current development needs, and
one that is prepared for future challenges and is compatible with Western
societies. 65

Albania Joins the NACC

At the NATO summit in Rome, the alliance adopted a new strategic concept that

established the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) as a mechanism for

institutional cooperation with South Eastern European states. 66 Albania was admitted to
the NACC in June 1992. Immediately thereafter, many Albanian parliamentarians,
journalists, politicians, and military personnel visited NATO headquarters in Brussels and
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, participating in
seminars and conferences and meeting with alliance officials. This process of
socialization aimed to increase Albanian public knowledge and to teach Albanian elites
how the alliance worked. 67
Already in December 1992, President Sali Berisha became the first Albanian
leader to visit the NATO HQ in Brussels. He met with Secretary-General Manfred
Wrner and discussed the situation in the Balkans, raising concerns about the situation in
Kosovo. Berisha clearly articulated Tiranas westernization calculusthat Albania is for
peace and stability in the region, not for the change of the borders, and he described the
cooperation with NATO as very important for the peace and stability of the Balkans. He
officially submitted the application of Albania to join the alliance. 68

Fatos Nano, Security in Southeastern Europe: An Albanian Perspective, (Speech held at 15th
International Workshop on Global Security, Vienna, Austria, June 1923, 1998).

Asmus, Opening NATOs Door, 17.


Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture, 24-28.


President Berisha Visits NATO HQ: Albania Wishes to be Member of NATO, BBC Summary of
World Broadcasts, December 19, 1992, http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.nps.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/.


In March 1993, Manfred Wrner became the first NATO Secretary General to
visit Albania. The visit was a strong sign of the alliances willingness to extend the hand
of cooperation to Albania. 69 Wrner, in his speech before the Albanian Parliament,
declared that Albania belonged to Europe. These solemn words went beyond merely
recognizing the western identity of Albanians. NATO was aware of the difficult situation
of Albania concerning the fate of ethnic Albanians living outside the country and it
praised Tiranas foreign policy of restraint and its efforts to cooperate extensively with
the international community for the security and stability of the region. 70 NATO saw
Albania as a responsible and trusted partner that could play a constructive role in the
peace and stability of the region.

Albania Joins Partnership for Peace (PfP)

On the other hand Albania saw cooperation with NATO as very important for its

own security, for defending the democratic rights of ethnic Albanians and for promoting
peace and stability in the region. Thus, in 1994, Albania joined the Partnership for Peace
(PfP) program. PfP, launched at the Brussels Summit, was and is basically a cooperation
initiative between NATO and non-NATO members that aims to protect and promote
liberal freedom, justice, and peace through democracy. 71 PfP includes a wide range of
joint NATO-partner activities that serve to familiarize partner countries with the norms,
practices, and procedures of NATO. PfP is a useful tool not only to prepare aspirant
states to join the alliance but also to measure their commitment and capabilities. 72
The program provided Albania with a real opportunity to strengthen its relations
with NATO. Although participation in PfP was not a guarantee of membership, it served
as a stage of active integration into the alliance. 73 According to President Berisha,
Partnership for Peace was not only or even primarily about the military aspects of the

Manfred Worner, (speech by secretary general held at the Albanian Parliament, Tirana, Albania,
March 19, 1993), http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/1993/s930319b.htm.



Asmus, Opening NATOs Door, 67.


Kristaq Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU, (PhD
diss., Defense Academy Spiro Moisiu, 2011), 26.

Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture, 24-28


Alliance. He suggested that, more importantly, the political values that underlay PfP
would serve to promote trust among neighboring and non-neighboring countries. 74 Still,
President Berisha asserted that Albania should insist on full NATO membership as a both
an engine and a confirmation of Albanias Euro-Atlantic integration.
NATO-Albania PfP cooperation was enriched by two key elements: Individual
Partnership Programs (IPP) and the Planning and Reviewing Process (PARP). IPP is
designed to bring together all the various cooperation mechanisms through which a
partner country interacts with the Alliance, sharpening the focus of activities to better
support their domestic reform efforts. 75 Under this framework, the program included a
range of PfP activities specific to Albania and covered a wide range beginning from
military reforms and democratic control of armed forces to civil emergency preparedness.
The PfP activities included military exercises, Mobile Training Teams (MTT),
conferences, workshops, seminars, courses at NATO Centers of Excellence. All these
activities aimed to socialize Albania with NATO way of thinking and of doing business
and to help Albania develop defense concepts and capabilities to be used in support or
within NATO operations. These activities increased the awareness of Albania about new
asymmetric threats and new type of operations such as Crises Response Operations
(CRO). 76 The international terrorism, transnational organized crime and proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction emerged as major threats to the security instead of state
aggression as it used to be in the past.
The Planning and Review Process (PARP) provides an organized instrument for
identifying partner capabilities that could be offered to the Alliance for multinational
training, exercises and operations. For partner countries participating in the PARP, it also
works as the principal tool used to guide and measure defense and military progress. 77
PARP was an essential part of PfP for reforming the Albanian military in order to

President Views Kosovo Issue, NATO membership, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts,

July 8, 1996, http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.nps.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The Partnership for Peace Program,


Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process,
November 3, 2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_68277.htm?selectedLocale=en.


increase the interoperable with the ally forces and to adapt her to face the asymmetrical
threats. 78 NATO sent several working groups to Albania to assist with identifying the
forces and capabilities that Albania wanted to make available for PfP activities and to
improve its interoperability with allied forces in many PfP cooperation fields, beginning
from peacekeeping and humanitarian operations to crises response operations.
Additionally, PARP was designed as a mechanism for providing regular exchanges of
information among allies and Albania in order to increase transparency on overall
defense plans. It showed Albania's policies, plans, and its commitments toward NATO,
thus providing a good tool for allies to consider and assess Albanian NATO
membership. 79 Through PARP Albanian defense plans were oriented toward a collective
defense approach to the security threats. For example, Albanian Army disbanded many
army units such as army divisions containing tank battalions or air defense battalions,
reducing substantially the number of active military personnel but on the other hand
developed small elite military capabilities such as Rapid Reaction Brigade and
Commando Regiment able to handle crises response operations, fight against terrorism or
deploy in support of NATO operations.
Albania took the PfP initiative very seriously. In 1995, the Albanian armed forces
participated in twelve exercises with NATO in the United States, Greece, and Italythe
first time Albanian troops took part in military exercises outside the country. These
exercises served not only to increase the interoperability of the Albanian Armed Forces
but also to familiarize them with NATO practices and process and to develop good
personal relations with NATO forces.
In 1996, Albania took another step in its cooperation with NATO by deciding to
send thirty-three troops in NATO-led multinational peace support operation, the
Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. IFOR was mandated by a UN
Security Council Resolution to implement the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The Albanian contingent, after training for peacekeeping operations in


Enika Abazi, Defense Reform of the Albanian Armed Forces: Democratization and
Transformation, http://www.ciaonet.org/olj/co/co_sep04/co_sep04c.pdf.

Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture, 24-28.


Germany, served as an independent unit of the German unit in IFOR. 80 This active
participation in IFOR built on an earlier decision, when Albania had allowed NATO to
use its airfield and ports to plan operations in Bosnia. This modest contribution to the first
NATO-led mission in Balkans, despite the economic difficulties and the security risks,
was an indicator that Albania was emerging as a reliable partner who was ready to play
an active role in the peace and stability of the region. 81

1997 Internal Crises, Extremist Islamism and NATOs Stabilizing Role

Despite the positive democratic developments in its early post-communism years,

Albania remained a weak state making a difficult transition to democracy. Its democratic
institutions were not consolidated and the legal framework was incomplete. At the end of
1996, the domestic political situation was unstable and the opposition parties boycotted
the parliament after contesting the parliamentary elections.
The already unstable political situation worsened with the spectacular collapse of
several pyramid schemes that swept away the life savings of tens of thousands of
Albanian citizens. These financial schemes had offered very high returns for a short
amount of time. Albanians, whose years of isolation and authoritarian communism left
them somewhat unprepared for the vicissitudes of capitalism when it arrived, saw these
ventures as an easy way to get rich in a country that didnt have much to offer.
According to one source, by 1997, the sums invested in these Ponzi schemes reached a
staggering US$1.2 billionmore than 50 percent of the countrys GDP. 82 The
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United States, and the European Union all issued
warnings about alleged money laundering; the Tirana government was reluctant to outlaw
the highly popular, if highly questionable, schemes. As such, when the pyramids
collapsed, the government appeared complicit in the widespread financial ruin that


Ministry of Defense of Albania, Peacekeeping Operations: Bosnia and Herzegovina,

http://www.mod.gov.al/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=901:bosnjehercegovine&catid=103&Itemid=481 (accessed November 10, 2012)

Copani, Partnership for Peace and New Dimensions of Albanias Security Posture, 24-28.


Rakipi, Weak States & Security: Rethinking the Balkan Post-Cold War Security Agenda, 105.


The weak state fell amid outrage and violence after large popular revolts
demanded that the government take full responsibility and resign. 83 As the unrest
accelerated, crowds attacked military depots and looted large amounts of weapons and
ammunition. 84 The military disintegrated together with other state institutions. In the
ensuing chaos, organized crime and armed criminal bands flourished, actually
undertaking state functions in many regions of the country. Many Albanians fled to Italy
or Greece in an attempt to escape from the dangerous situation at home, which threatened
a demographic crisis for Albania and its neighbors alike. Worse, the large number of
weapons in unchecked circulation in a very poor and desperate population posed an even
bigger concern for the region and the EU.
The possibility that the weapons might have fallen into terrorists hands was
considered an additionaland very realthreat. With its weak governance, porous
borders, and criminal networks, Albania [had] all the characteristics of a fragile state that
could become a haven for terrorists. 85 For all such terrorist groups, Albania was a
major transit point for immigrants seeking to reach Europe from further east and south,
such as Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan 86 not only to infiltrate into Europe, under the guise of
genuine immigrants, but also to generate funds by coordinating the activities with the
organized crime networks. 87 Between 1994 and 1996, already the country began to be
used as an interim point for Mujahedin from Afghanistan who were on their way to
Bosnia to fight the Serbian army. 88 Among the Islamic organizations that operated in
Albania there were several radical Islamic terrorist groups that tried to advance their
Ibid., 107. Rakipi argues that the reasons for the 1997 failure lay on the weak institutions and their
low level of legitimacy.

700,000 different kinds of weapons were looted during the 1997 riots.


David L. Phillips, Project on Preventing Failed States: Albania, (The National Committee on
American Foreign Policy, May 2005),

Derek Lutterbeck, Policing Migration in the Mediterranean, Mediterranean Politics, vol. 11, no. 1,
(March 2006), http://studium.unict.it/dokeos/2012/courses/1001283C1/document/Lutterbeck-Med_PoliticsMarch06.pdf.

Garry Mason, Immigration Criminals May Aid Terrorists, Janes Intelligence Review Magazine,
(December 2002). http://www.ndu.edu/CTNSP/docUploaded/FINAL_DH_53.pdf

Artan Hoxha, Si erdhn n Shqipri Terroristt e Xhihadit, Gazeta Shqiptare, January 16, 2008,



terrorist objectives. Islamic Egyptian Jihad, Egyptian Islamic Group, Algerian Front
of Islamic Salvation, and the Islamic Armed Group of Algeria were present and
operating in Albania. 89
Terrorist organizations activity in Albania was mainly focused on using the
permissive environment of the country as a safe haven for generating funds, conducting
illegal activities, coordinating operations in the region, providing asylum to terrorist
fugitives and spreading extremist religious ideology throughout the country. They used
the Islamic charitable NGOs for their activities. For example The International
Humanitarian Islamic Organization (IIRO), the first Islamic NGO established in Albania,
helped the mujahidin fighters in Bosnia with finances and logistical support. 90 An
Albanian office of the IIRO also employed Muhammad al Zawahiri, the brother of Bin
Ladens deputy, to assist with al-Qaedas terrorism efforts in the Balkans. The IIRO was
one of the main organizations that supported the spread of Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a
conservative and intolerant form of Islam that is practiced in Saudi Arabia. 91 The sect
seeks to purify Islam practices deviate from the seventh-century teachings of the Prophet
Muhammad. 92 Osama bin Laden practiced Wahhabism. IIRO provided opportunities to
Albanians to attend Wahhabism theology studies in Arab countries.
Another Wahhabi charity organization sponsored by Saudi Arabia, the Al
Haramain Association, was penetrated between 1993 and 1998 by the Islamic Egyptian
Jihad (IEJ) and members of al-Qaeda. They formed a terrorist cell within the Al
Haramain Association, which aimed to recruit young Albanians, train them to forge
documents, and prepare them to perform terrorist activities and acts of violence in
Kosovo to further destabilize the internal situation in Albania by fomenting conflict
among the countrys various religious groups. The IEJ cell excelled in forgery and
provided terrorist fugitives and operators with the necessary documents to travel in other





Definition by Wordnet, http://princeton.edu/perl/webwn.


U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism
and Salafiyya, by Christopher M. Blanchard, CRS Report RS21695 (Washington, DC: Office of
Congressional Information and Publishing, January 24, 2008).


countries. The trial in Cairo of the captured members of this cell, called the returnees
from Albania, brought to light facts about funds being generated and other activities to
support operations in Europe. 93
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) was another Islamic
organization based in Albania that spread extremist religious propaganda in the country
and sponsored Albanian youngsters to study Wahhabi theology in Arab countries. It was
co-founded by Osama bin Ladens nephew, Abdulla bin Laden and the organization was
linked to September 11 attacks.
During late 1990s terrorist groups attempted several times to attack U.S. targets in
Albania, showing that they were capable of planning and staging attacks as well. In 1997,
the U.S. embassy in Tirana was even temporarily closed when it was discovered that a
faction of the Muslim Brotherhood was plotting an attack. 94 One year later, Albania
and the United States foiled another planned attack on the U.S. embassy in Tirana. 95
Amid the ongoing and worsening turmoil, the Albanian government asked NATO
for an international force to restore the order in Albania. However, NATO was reluctant
to commit to an intervention in Albania; then-Secretary General Javier Solana ruled out
any NATO-led military intervention in support of the government of Albania. 96 Instead,
Solana emphasized political and diplomatic engagement first. Pettifer and Vickers, two
prominent scholars of Albanian history, suggested that a possible reason that NATO
rejected military intervention in Albania was to avoid taking sides in the conflict. This

Three of six members of an IEJ cell who were arrested in Albania during the summer of 1998
received a capital sentence; one was sentenced to life prison and the remaining two served 10 years in
prison. Mohamed Hassan Tita, Ahmed Osman Saleh dhe Essam Abdel Tauab were tried before a military
court in Cairo in the beginning of 1999 and were accused of several high crimes. This was one of the
biggest trials conducted until then relating to Islamic terrorist in the Arabic world. On 14 February 2000,
Ahmed Ibrahim Al Naggar and Ahmed Osman Saleh were hanged in a prison of Cairo. The chief of Tirana
Cell Kreu, Shavki Salama Attiya (Magad Mustafa) received a lifelong prison sentence. Mohamed Hassan
Tita and Essam Abdel Tawwab were sentenced 10 years in prison each. The sixth one, Salah El-Sayed, was
killed during the capture operation by police special forces on 24 October 1998. Source: Gazeta Shqiptare,
dated 29.01.2008.

U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, Islamic Terrorism and the Balkans, by
Steven Woehrel, CRS Report RL33012 (Washington, DC: Office of Congressional Information and
Publishing, July 26, 2005).



Albania Sends Troops and Tanks to Crush Southern Revolt, Associated Press, March 5, 1997,


step would have divided the country even more and would have soured the people on
NATO. 97 Taking into consideration that public support for NATO has always been
higher than 90 percent, meaning that it was supported by followers of both political
parties engaged in the political turmoil, NATOs engagement either in support of the
government or against it would have created discontent and anger in a highly politicised
and divided public.
Nor did the EU show much interest in mounting a peacekeeping operation in
Albania, particularly with the wars in the former Yugoslavia only recently officially
concluded. For example, Germany saw the Albanian crisis as an internal matter. Thus,
before Tirana could hope for any international assistance, Albanias political elites were
pushed to come to an agreement to resolve the political deadlock.
However, a UNSC resolution mandated a humanitarian intervention by a coalition
composed of eleven European countries and led by Italy. 98 The coalition also was
supported by OSCE. Operation ALBA was in effect for a period of six months. Its main
tasks were to secure the distribution of humanitarian aid and to secure the polling stations
so that everybody could vote in the parliamentary elections as agreed by the political
elites. 99 There are different opinions about the success of this operation, and a thorough
discussion is outside the scope of this thesis. Nonetheless, it can be argued that Operation
ALBA reinforced the publics trust in international organizations, and the presence of
western military forces that composed the coalition was widely welcomed. This
experience created a suitable environment for the future deployment of NATO troops in
Albania during the Kosovo crisis.Despite the domestic turmoil, political instability, and
the reluctance of NATO to engage in military intervention in Albania, Albanian foreign
policy objectives remained unchanged. At the Madrid Summit in 1997, Bashkim Fino,
the prime minister of the care-taker government, declared that integration into the
Alliance remains an absolute priority of our foreign policy since this is our indisputable

James Pettifer and Miranda Vickers, The Albanian Question: Reshaping the Balkans (London:
I.B.Tauris, 2009), 6578.

Riccardo Marchio, Operation Alba: A European Approach to Peace Support Operations in the
Balkans, U.S. Army War College, 2000, http://www.dtic.mil/cgibin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA378201&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf.

Ibid., 6.


aspiration and it is included in all programs of Albanian parties of the entire political
spectrum. 100 He officially invited NATO to guide the restructuring of Albanian military
through material and technical assistance, expertize and training and to channel also
bilateral military assistance toward creating a small, professional, military forces able to
deploy in NATO missions to address the new threats emerged after the cold war such as
terrorism, proliferation of WMD, etc. 101
NATO accepted the request and decided to assist through the PfP framework. An
Individual Partnership Plan (IPP) was tailored to meet the Albanias specific needs. The
IPP was signed in Brussels by the newly elected Prime Minister Nano. The IPP included
NATO assistance in reconstructing and restructuring the Albanian armed forces under
civilian democratic control, as well as training activities to keep Albania engaged in
PfP. 102
The IPP was designed to coordinate not only the assistance that NATO as an
organization would give but also the assistance of individual ally and partner countries.
NATO sent twelve teams of experts to Albania in four months to assist in developing a
conceptual framework, including a national security concept, military doctrine, civilian
control, legal framework, and civil-military relations. These delegations also helped to
reorganize and re-function the Ministry of Defense, the general staff, and the major
commands of the armed forces. They also provided technical assistance in securing
armament storage sites and in ordinance disposal. At the same time, successful bilateral
assistance programs with NATO nations improved basic infrastructure and trained
personnel to face the challenges that the Albanian armed forces were going through. The


Bashkim Fino, Statement by the Head of the Albanian Delegation, (Speech held at Madrid NATO
Summit, 9 July 1997) http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/1997/s970709m.htm.



Secretary Generals Remarks to the Press on the Occasion of the Visit by the Prime Minister of
Albania, Fatos Nano, on 10 September 1997, NATO Review, no. 5, Vol. 45 (October 1997)


IPP program included military cooperation activities to help the Albanian armed forces to
take full advantage of PfP exercises and trainings. 103
Because the results of the IPP program in 1997 proved to be satisfactory to all
sides, NATO decided to extend the IPP during 1998 as well. The eruption of Kosovo
crises on the Albanian border had increased the urgency of reorganizing the Albanian
Army. It had also emphasized the necessity of assisting the Albanian authorities in
addressing the possible consequences of the crisis in Kosovo, including possible
assistance in communications, border control and refugee matters. 104 In order to
coordinate and implement the IPP activities NATO opened a PfP Cell in Tirana on 1 June
1998. According to NATO
The opening of this office signal[ed] the Alliance's interest in developing
closer relations with the Albanian authorities in the implementation of PfP
activities. It [was] the first of its kind and represent[ed] NATO's
commitment to carry out the special IPP within the unique circumstances
found in Albania. 105
Katardikis argues that the case of Albania has broken new ground in the
evolution of PfP and has confirmed its position as a key element in the new European
security structure. 106
As NATO-Albania relations were growing closer and warmer, NATO-Albanian
dialogue and consultations intensified. Between March 1998 and May 1999, the NATO
Secretary General and Albanian Prime Ministers met five timesthree times in Tirana
and twice in Brusselsto discuss the situation in Kosovo. Albania was consistent in
asking the alliance to intervene in Kosovo in order to stop the ethnic cleansing and
restore peace and stability in the region. (Tirana was just as scrupulous in foreswearing
any irredentist advantage-seeking in the conflict.) Prime Minister Fatos Nano, in different

George Katsirdakis, Albania: A case study in the practical implementation of Partnership for
Peace, NATO Review, no. 2, Vol. 46 (Summer 1998), 2226 http://www.nato.int/docu/review/1998/9802

NATO, NATO Opens NATO/Partnership for Peace Cell in Albania, news release, May 29, 1998,



Katsirdakis, Albania: A Case Study in the Practical Implementation of Partnership for Peace, 22-



speeches, emphasized that NATO was the only solution to Kosovo crises. He persistently
asked NATO to deploy troops in Albania in order to prevent the conflict from
spreading. 107 Meanwhile, the Albanian government continued to support the diplomacy
by offering to NATO full cooperation. Albania allowed NATO airplanes to fly over
Albanian territory and, as it had for IFOR in the Bosnian action, placed its international
airport and military airfields at NATOs disposal. 108
NATO deployed about 8,000 troops in Albania to assist the country to manage the
humanitarian crises caused by more than 200,000 Kosovo Refugees who crossed the
border to escape the Milosevics regimes annhilatory oppression. 109 The operation
provided security for the international agencies and organizations that were engaged with
delivering aid for refugees, provided assistance in logistics, transport, infrastructure and
coordination, based on the demands of the Albanian government." 110

AlbanianNATO Relations during Kosovo Crisis

After exhausting all diplomatic means, NATO commenced Operation Allied

Force (OAF, MarchJune 1999), which successfully compelled Milosevics regime to

stop the ethnic cleansing, withdraw the troops from Kosovo, and allow for a
peacekeeping force to be deployed in Kosovo to guarantee the return of refugees to their
homes. After the 78-day air campaign, Kosovo Force (KFOR), with about 50,000 troops
from NATO and partner countries, deployed to Kosovo on 12 June 1999. (KFOR was a
peace enforcement operation based on a mandate from UNSCR 1244 dated 10 June
1999.) Today KFORs 10,000-troop presence in Kosovo continues to serve as
deterrence to Serbia. 111 KFORs presence has been crucial in maintaining safety and
security for all individuals and communities in Kosovo. Today, KFOR continues to

Albania on Brink of War, Hobart Mercury, June 24, 1998.


Albania places Airfields at NATOs Disposal, Albanian Telegraphic Agency, June 13, 1998.


Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 2000 - Albania, 1 December 1999,
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3ae6a8c820.html (accessed 11 November 2012).

Albanian Premier says NATO Troops to Help Deal with Refugees, BBC Monitoring Europe,
April 4, 1999 http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.nps.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATOs Role in Kosovo, August 31, 2012,


contribute toward maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo for the benefit of
all citizens. 112 The relative stability of Kosovo also benefits Albania in terms of both
immigration and the situation of the ethnic Albanians there.
At the end of Operation Allied Force, in August 1999, NATO established
Communication Zone West (COMMZ (W)), as its presence with a specific mission in
Albania. The Headquarters was integrated into the structure of the KFOR and had a
Multinational Military Force from the USA, Germany, France, Turkey and Greece. The
COMMZ (W) was tasked with securing the lines of communications from Albania to
Kosovo and south from Albania to Macedonia, the port of Durres and Rinas International
Airport. However, one important mission of COMMZ (W) was to maintain working
links between NATO and Albania. 113
NATO assistance to Albania after the 1997 domestic crises, its undisputable role
in resolving the crises in Kosovo, and its presence in Albania during refugee crises and
thereafter increased the public support for Euro-Atlantic aspiration in unprecedented
levels. One professor on the University of Tirana put it in this way: There is a great
openness toward NATO. People have been hopeless, and they are reading very positive
signs into the buildup." 114 According to Pre Zogaj, a senior adviser to Rexhep Mejdani,
the Albanian President of that time, the presence of the alliance in Albania demanded
responsibility from Albania's politicians, curtailing their penchant for instigating unrest
and accelerating internal reforms that will improve policing and immigration controls.115
Prime Minister Majko said solemnly:
The presence of NATO troops in Albania, their role in the resolution of
the conflict in Kosova and the aid they have provided for the rehabilitation
of the infrastructure Albania have brought back to the people the optimism
that the country has now a future, it has partners and worthy allies 116



Allied Command Operations, NATO HQs Tirana, http://www.aco.nato.int/page13612628.aspx

(Accessed 11 November 2012)

The Little Nation that wants to join NATO; Albania Sees Balkan Conflict as Means to a Brighter
Future, The Washington Post, May 6, 1999.



NATO Troops are restoring Hope Premier, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, June 25, 1999.


NATO stood side-by-side my people and my people lined themselves

totally by the side of NATO in the role of an equal partner in this in
gigantic battle, one of the biggest in the history of mankind. 117
In 2001 NATO played an important role in resolving the nine-month
conflict that erupted in Macedonia between ethnic Albanians and ethnic
Macedonians in 2001. Although the EU was engaged actively in hammering out
the Ohrid Framework Agreement that ended the conflict, NATOs intervention
was essential to demilitarize the National Liberation Army (NLA) and to collect
and destroy their weapons. Mainly because the alliance had gained legitimacy and
trust with its consistent and clear engagements to provide peace and stability in
Balkans, first with intervention in Bosnia and then in Kosovo, NATO could
influence this delicate task and, once again, help restore stability to the region.


NATOs efforts in and around Albania also helped curtail the allure of Islamist

extremism and other forms of terrorism in the fledgling Balkan democracy. The anti-west
ideologies advanced by extremist religious groups were not successful because Albanians
embraced liberal democratic values and imagined their future integrated in the EuroAtlantic Community. 118 Particularly the crucial role that NATO played in ending the
ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and in resolving ethnic strife in Macedonia fostered a
resolutely pro-NATO (and, hence, pro-Western) public attitude in Albania. Both strong
political and public orientation toward NATO, while easing the socialization and
cooperation with the West, made it difficult for terrorist groups to rely on the Albanian
Muslim population for their terrorist acts against American or Western targets.


Albania feels like equal partner of NATO Premier, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, June
14, 1999, http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.nps.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/
The NATO active engagement, in contrast with Bosnia, deterred the involvement of mujahidin fighters
in Kosovo. This was crucial in keeping the conflict out of religious nuances and boosting the public support
in the Muslim community.
It also can be argued that the specific religious culture of Albania, which relate to the nations proWestern sentiments, also contributed to the success of NATOs counter-terrorism aspect in Albania.
Ultimately, the overwhelming majorities of Albanians retains their mutual religious tolerance and reject
extremism in the guise of faith.


Furthermore, NATO engagement in Kosovo and Macedonia not only boosted

public support for the Euro-Atlantic alliance but also thwarted the involvement of
Mujahidin fighters in the conflict for two reasons. First, the engagement of the West to
stop the oppression of Muslims prevented the interpretation of the conflicts as religious
wars. The NATO operations in ex-Yugoslavia were exercised in support building
institutions of good governance in central and Eastern Europe. 119 The allies were united
in acting in accordance with shared liberal democratic values in order to stop the massive
humanitarian crisis in Balkans. Thus the armed struggle of both KLA and NLA
maintained their secular setting and did not embark on a religious war. Second, the
potential support of mujahidin could not be compared with the military capabilities that
NATO engaged in Kosovo crises. Both KLA and NLA leaders made it clear that they
fought for the rights of Albanians and not for a religious cause. 120 They distanced
themselves from terrorist groups and were eager to deny any alleged connections with
them. They fully cooperated with NATO and were grateful to NATO for helping their
Next, Albanias aspiration for Euro-Atlantic integration created on incentive for
the Albanian government to give a free hand to United States to fight terrorism in
Albania. 121 In 19981999, the Albanian government, in close cooperation with the
American CIA, cracked down on terrorist cells and groups operating in Albania with
suspected links to terrorists. Albania also has been able to deport suspected Islamic
extremists and terrorists. On 18 April 1999, in Egypt took part one of the biggest terrorist
trials in history. The trial involved 107 Islamic fundamentalists, 63 of whom were tried
in absentia. Most of the accused belonged to the Egyptian al-Jihad group, while the most
notorious had ties to Osama bin Ladins al-Qaidah organization. 122 The trial has been
called the trial of the returnees from Albanian, because twenty of the accused were


Gheciu, NATO in the New Europe, 239


Popescu, Tackling Terrorism in the Balkans.




Yoram Schweitzer, Osama bin Ladin and the Egyptian Terrorist Groups, June 25, 1999,


extradited from Albania in July of 98. 123 The trial revealed a lot of information about
the organization, links and plans of the terrorist groups. At the same time the
determination of Albania to capture and hand over the alleged terrorist was a clear sign to
terrorist organizations that Albania could not consider a safe haven any longer.
Last, NATOs presence and active engagement in defense institution building
helped Albania overcome the difficult security situation created by the internal crises of
1997. NATO assisted Albania to store properly the munitions and to dispose the
excessive amount of munitions that threatened to create a breach in the security of the
country. NATOs positive engagement increased the faith of the people in the democratic
reforms and in the national institutions, boosting the hope of the people for a future in the
Euro-Atlantic community and, as well, further distancing the Albanians from
international terrorism.








This chapter analyzes NATO-Albanian relation beginning from 1999, when

Albania joined the (MAP), until 2008, when Albania was invited to join the Alliance at
the Bucharest Summit. This period of time is characterized by an intensification of
relations between NATO and Albania. The major foreign policy objective, NATO
integration, became the word of the day, meaning that it influenced and guided
government plans and programs. In this phase, Albania made painstaking efforts to leave
behind its image as a security consumer and to emerge as a reliable partner contributing
to the regional and broader security.
In the early 2000s, Albania developed the first National Security Strategy, which
was followed by the Military Strategy. These two important documents emphasized
collective defense and guided Albanian defense reforms toward a small, professional and
deployable military force able to participate in or support NATO operations. The
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States and the strong reaction of
the Alliance to international terrorism represented a strategic chance for Albania to align
itself with NATO. Albania committed itself to fight actively international terrorism both
domestically and abroad. NATO-Albanian relations intensified, and cooperation against
fighting terrorism became an important point. Albanias participation in ISAF increased
until it became the biggest contributor compared to the population. In addition, Albania
strongly supported the so-called coalition of the willing in Iraq and participated in
Operation Active Endeavour.
In the domestic realm, Albania undertook such effective measures from the
Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism as improving border control; destroying small
weapons and excessive ammunition, which Albania had in over-abundance; improving
the legal framework to prevent money laundering and to comply with international
conventions against terrorism; and fighting organized crime and corruption.
This chapter explores the regional policy of Albania as a very important feature of
the Euro-Atlantic integration. The chapter concludes with an assessment of NATO43

Albanian relations at the eve of Bucharest Summit, when Albania was invited officially
to join the Alliance.


The Membership Action Plan was launched in April 1999 at the Washington

Summit to assist democratizing states in Europe to meet NATO membership in criteria

by providing advice, assistance, and practical support in all fields.124 Although the
invitation to join MAP does not necessarily guarantee NATO accession, the process helps
aspiring countries to identify objectives and develop individual annual national programs
tailored to their needs covering a wide range of areaspolitical, economic, defense,
resource, security and legal.125 The individual annual national program is reviewed and
progress is assessed by the alliance, which, by the same mechanism, provides political
and technical advice. Furthermore, MAP is a clearing house which helps coordinate
assistance by NATO and member states to aspiring countries. 126
Albania was one of the first nine countries that were invited to join MAP in the
Washington Summit in 1999. Albania took MAP very seriously and developed 10 cycles
ANP that guided the reforms and the transformation of Albania until the invitation to start
accession talks in Bucharest Summit in 2008. 127 The annual national plans reflected
Albanian aspirations to build a solid democratic and constitutional state based on the rule
of law and a free market economy. They aimed at conducting reforms to consolidate the
democratic institutions while declaring open war on organized crime and corruption.
Particular emphasis fell on continuing the defense sector reforms in order to establish
democratic civilian control over the military and to prepare the Albanian Armed Forces
to join the Alliance. The ANPs also stressed the importance of good relations with the
neighbors, and the regional cooperation to foster peace and stability. The programs

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Membership Action Plan (MAP), June 11, 2012,



MAP is not a substitute for PfP and PARP mechanisms, which are crucial in assisting the partner
countries to achieve interoperability with NATO forces and prepare their forces for possible future

Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU. 71.


emphasized that the strategic goal of the country is its full integration into Euro-Atlantic
structures 128 asserting Albanias commitment to take active part in peace support
operations and the fight against international terrorism. 129
Because the MAP process covered such a wide spectrum of reforms, it required
the contribution and the coordination of efforts among several different institutions. The
Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Ministry of Interior
(MoI), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), were closely involved in the MAP
process, coordinating regularly through an interagency working group. In 2000, a new
directorate, responsible for developing Defense Policies for Euro-Atlantic Integration,
was established at the Ministry of Defense. This directorate played a major role in setting
integration objectives for the Armed Forces. An inter-ministerial committee on EuroAtlantic integration, chaired by the prime minister, was established to oversee the MAP


MAP objectives were embedded in all governmental plans and programs.

Parliament also was active in the process, which enabled the passing of a huge body of
laws aimed at the harmonization of national legislation with NATO.
The MAP process helped Albania to identify the right integration objectives and
improve plans based on the allies feedback and consultation. Kristaq Gerveni, the
Director of Planning Directorate at the Albanian General Staff from 2003 to 2005, argues
that Albania made very good use of the consultation mechanism with the alliance. 131
Indeed, Albania was the first partner country to employ political consultation with NATO
during Kosovo crises. This step accorded completely with the spirit of the alliance, which
emphasized political consultation as one of the most important drivers of the alliance.
Since then, Albania has used consultation extensively to fulfill integration objectives. For
example the MAP 20002001 included consultation with NATO on political, military,


Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense, MAP: Annual National Programs of the Republic of
Albania 1999200: Annual National Program 20002001 (Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center,

Abazi, Defense Reform of the Albanian Armed Forces: Democratization and Transformation


Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense, MAP: Annual National Programs of the Republic of
Albania 19992005; MAP 1999- 2000(Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center, 2004).

Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU, 5355.


resource and legal issues, including political consultation for the post-Kosovo conflict
regional situation, political consultation on the Macedonian ethnic conflict with ethnic
Albanians in 2001, continuing military consultation on the transformation of the Albanian
Armed Forces, and the consultation on the harmonization of the national legal framework
with NATO.



In 2000, Albania developed its first National Security Strategy (NSS). The

document, in sharp contrast to the previous defense policies of the communist regime,
was open and public. It also was oriented toward collective defense rather than focusing
on individual national defense. The strategy identified the risks and threats to the national
security in line with the threats perceived by NATO. 133 The strategy outlined, above all,
extremist nationalism, political instability, organized crime, and WMD as the main
threats to the national security. The same document stated that the rule of law,
consolidation of democratic institutions, Euro-Atlantic and EU integration were crucial to
national security.
The NSS stated that Albania did not have territorial disputes, had no enemies, and
made no claims to redraw borders, but, instead, firmly believed that regional cooperation
was needed to achieve peace and stability. 134 These arguments determined Albania as a
factor which produces and exports security through the implementation of good
neighborhood policy and regional dialogue. 135 The 2000 NSS was developed in a
difficult timeright after the curtailment of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, whose status
remained still unresolved, and on the eve of the eruption of the ethnic conflict in
Macedonia, which involved ethnic Albanians. However, the NSS, framed by NATO132

Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense, MAP: Annual National Programs of the Republic of
Albania 1999200: MAP 20012002 (Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center, 2004).

Geron Kamberi, Elira Hroni and Besnik Baka, A Road Map for a New National Security Strategy:
Evaluation of risks threats and challenges, Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM): Centre for
European and Security Affairs, June 2011, 11.

Law No. 8572, dated 27.1.2000 For the Approval of the National Security Strategy of the Republic
of Albania.

Kamberi. A Road Map for a New National Security Strategy, 11.


Albania political consultation, did not resort to individual measures to tackle the national
security challenges. The NSS claimed no border disputes and advocated dialogue and
regional cooperation as the only way to resolve disputes with neighbor countries.
Not surprisingly, the strategy identified terrorism as an important security threat
not only to the international community but also to Albania itself, and it touted regional
and international cooperation as the proper way to fight the organized crime, to achieve
internal stability in order to deny terrorists the safe haven in Albania. 136 The strategy also
acknowledged NATOs presence in the Balkans and southeastern Europe as very
important for the peace and stability of the region. Ultimately, the 2000 NSS adopted
NATOs security concept and signaled Albanias intent to reinvent itself as a security
provider in the region and in the alliance.
In 2002 Albania adopted its first military strategy, completing the legaldocumentary framework for the national defense. The military strategy was developed in
line with NATOs country standards and in full accordance with the NATOs 1999
Strategic Concept. 137 The strategy articulated three main goals for the defense reform:
first, to become a full professional army by year 2010; second, to create small but capable
military force to defend the country and at the same time to be deployed in support of
NATO operations; and third, to increase the defense budget every year by 0.1 percent of
GDP in order to reach NATO requirement of 2 percent of GDP by 2010. The military
strategy listed among the most important threats organized crime and terrorism,
acknowledging the threat they pose to the state and its democratic institutions. 138 The
military strategy 2002 denationalized defense by identifying and addressing the common
threats, departing farther from the individual self-defense concept.
The NSS of 2004, called also the strategy of integration, was focused
thoroughly on the integration of Albania into the Euro-Atlantic structures as one of the


Law No. 8572.


Membership Action Plan 2001- 2002, 169.


Law No.8930, dated 25.7.2002 For the Approval of Military Strategy of the Republic of Albania,


two pillars of Albanias diplomacythe other being the EU integration. It lays out the
transformation of Albania from security consumer to security provider. The strategy
believes that the level of the security of the country will be fostered by successfully
accomplishing the programs and standards of PfP and Agreement of Stabilization and
Association. 139 The strategy states that the national issue will be achieved through EuroAtlantic integration. 140
The NSS of 2004 has been criticized by security experts on the basis that it is a
strategy of NATO integration rather than a pure national security strategy. The critiques
go on to suggest that defense and security reform in Albania is driven by external actors
mainly through the consultation mechanism, such as MAP, and prioritizes meeting
NATO military standards rather than fulfilling Albanias security environment
requirements or national interests. 141 However, the critics proposed no other alternative.
Indeed, Albania was not able to maintain a big army, able to defend its national interest in
the region and assert itself as a regional power. On the other hand, Albanias vital
national interests were being threatened by the regional instability. Albania could have
been dragged in a regional war full of nationalist sentiments, similar to post 1990 ethnic
wars in ex-Yugoslavia, which would have ruined the country and the region. Considering
the weak position of Albania, the internal political instability, weak economy, limited
military power and regional instability Albanian national interest were much better
realized according to this strategy of integration. 142 By replacing nationalism with
integration, the hostility with cooperation, individual action with political consultation
with NATO Albania showed maturity, reliability and emerged as a regional factor to the
stability. By becoming part of the solution it had better chances to be heard in the
international domain therefore to advocate its national interest.


Ministry of Defense, The National Strategy of the Republic of Albania (Tirana: Military Press and
Publication Center, 2005), 13.

Ibid., 22.


Tobias Pietz, with Marc Remillard, Brief 34:Defense Reform and Conversion in Albania,
Macedonia and Croatia, Bonn International Center for Conversion, 2006, 21.

Pietz, Brief 34:Defense Reform and Conversion in Albania, Macedonia and Croatia, 21.




The terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, were

perceived as an assault on democratic values and principles the over world. In the 1999
Strategic Concept, NATO had already identified terrorism as a potential risk that could
affect the security interests of the alliance. 143 However, the unimagined scale of the
terrorist attacks, the superb international coordination, and the determination of terrorist
organization to destroy democratic order put the fight against terrorism very high in
NATOs agenda.
On the evening of 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the attacks, and
for the first time in NATO's history, the Allies invoked Article 5 of the Washington
Treaty, the Alliances collective defense clause. 144 On the same day, government leaders
of NATO candidate states, the "Vilnius 10" 145 group, condemned the terrorist attacks
against the U.S. and vowed to undertake all efforts to combat the scourge of
terrorism. 146 The document that was endorsed in the EAPC meeting underscored that
the terrorist attack was directed not only against one country but also against all nations
supporting freedom, democracy and global security. 147
Albania, as part of the Vilnius Group, joined the EU countries in proclaiming
September 14 a National Day of Mourning. On September 28, the Albanian Parliament
adopted unanimously a resolution that firmly condemned the terrorist attacks in the U.S.
soil. The resolution declared Albanias full support in the campaign against the terrorism
and offered the use of Albanias entire airspace, ports and airport facilities to the anti-


North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The Alliances Strategic Concept 1999, April 24, 1999,

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Countering Terrorism, May 23, 2012,


Vilnius group The Vilnius 10 group included Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Macedonia and Croatia.

Vilnius 10 Group Condemns Terrorist Attacks on U.S., Baltic News Service, September 12,



terrorism coalition. 148 Similarly, on 5 October at the Sofia Summit, the President of the
Republic, Rexhep Meidani, declared that Albania was ready to cooperate with NATO,
the United States, and the EU in the fight against terrorism; the country, acting as a
defacto member of the alliance, puts at the disposal of the anti-terrorism coalition its
land, maritime and areal space. 149 In addition, Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta
[The] Albanian government fully supports the U.S. and British attacks
against terrorist bases and infrastructure in Afghanistan as well as against
the Taliban regime that supported terrorism. The Albanian government
states once more that it has committed to the antiterrorist campaign all of
its assets, but above all its political will and determination to stand firmly
and permanently in support of Freedom and Democracy, civilization and
progress. 150
At a meeting of the EAPC held on December 2001, Foreign Minister Arta Dade
stated that Albania considered the attacks against the United States as an attack against
values Albania stands for. Besides making the military infrastructure available for the
anti-terrorist coalition, the foreign minister declared the availability of 500 special troops
to be used eventually in counter terrorist operationsa significant promise made by a
small country with very limited resources. However, the strategic importance of this
promise far exceeded the military capabilities that it offered. It showed clearly a firm
political consensus and will across the Albanian political forces and strong support by the
public to contribute militarily to the collective defense of the values for which the
alliance stands. This willingness is in fact what NATO was seeking from those countries
seeking membership.
In the brief outline of the initial measures taken from the Republic of Albania in
the framework of the action against terrorism, then Foreign Minister Dade noted that
Albania will follow the fight against the international terrorism in all its complexity,


Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense, MAP: Annual National Programs of the Republic of
Albania 1999200: MAP 20012002 (Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center, 2004), 84.

Arjan Konomi, Shqiperia n Ann e Koalicionit Antiterrorist (Albania on the Side of the
Coalition, AIM Tirana, October 11, 2001.

MAP 20012002, 85.


political, juridical, military and economic aspects. 151 She reassured the EAPC that the
Albanian government was committed to maximally increas[ing] its efforts to strengthen
Albania's border control and to identify and prevent depositing, circulating, or
transferring money by the foundations or individuals financing the terrorist actions
exercise continuous control on bank assets. She aptly pointed out the nexus that exists
between organized crime and terrorism and stated that the fight against organized crime
and illegal trafficking assumes a special importance under the new circumstance. She
concluded that fighting these threats is a must for the nations that aspire to freedom and
democracy. 152
Indeed, the Albanian government acted quickly to take steps to bolster antiterrorist activities. For example, the Central Bank of Albania within one month from the
terrorist attacks established a working group to investigate the possible presence of bank
assets belonging to persons related to terrorist activities. In October 2001, five foreign
citizens suspected of terrorist connections and several others were expelled from the
Albanian territory. 153
In January 2002, the Albanian Parliament approved and enacted the National Plan
against Terrorism to coordinate and bolter interagency efforts to fight terrorism in all
realms. The plan was prepared by an inter-ministerial working group under the lead of
the Ministry of Defense.
Many experts in the field aptly have criticized the engagement of the Ministry of
Defense in leading positions, particularly in the planning aspect, while the Ministry of
Interior is the ministry carrying out the most responsibilities. 154 However, it can be
argued that the leading role of Ministry of Defense has two reasonable explanations.
First, it has a symbolic value. By giving the leading role to the MoD, the government
elevated the importance of the fight against terrorism to the level of the national defense.
Arta Dade, (Intervention by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania at the
meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Brussels, December 07, 2001)

Dade, Intervention at the meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.


Woehrel, Islamic Terrorism and the Balkans, 7.


Gjiknuri, Albanias Counter Terrorism-Terrorism Policy Options, 56.


Second, it was an organizational choice. The Ministry of Defense, thanks to NATO

assistance, was by far more organized, reformed, and functional than the other ministries,
especially the Ministry of Interior (called Ministry of Public Order), which at that time
was struggling with reforms to fight corruption and to increase effectiveness.
The plan identified two main categories of terrorism: domestic and international.
Domestic terrorism, which aims to destabilize the state and hamper the democratic
transition, is further divided into two subcategories: terrorist acts executed in Albania by
Albanian citizens supported by domestic forces and terrorist acts perpetrated by Albanian
citizens supported by foreign forces. The plan divides international terrorism into two
subcategories, too: terrorist acts perpetrated by foreigners in Albania and terrorist
activities abroad perpetrated by Albanian citizens recruited by international terrorist
organizations. Although the plan noted that no terrorist acts pertaining to the international
terrorism category had been recorded yet, it drew attention to the potential threat of
international terrorism based on the fact that from 1990 to 2000 the borders of Albania
have been poorly controlled.
The plan aimed not only to bring counterterrorism measures to Western standards
but also to improve the image of Albania in support of Euro-Atlantic integration. In the
wake of the Prague Summit,155 where NATO was expected to extend membership
invitations to some of the candidate countries, Albania could not afford to be accused
from some foreign media of being a safe haven for terrorist activities.
And these accusations were floated at the time, mostly by the Serbian and
Macedonian intelligence services. The gist was that Tirana, in addition to being unable to
control its borders and terrorist activities inside the country, was supporting Albanian
terrorists operating outside Albania. Although such allegations were never proved, the
Albanian government was concerned that they appear to be accepted at face value in the
West, where influential media echo[d] the allegations that Albania poses an Islamic threat
to Europe. 156 Albania feared that its religious composition, dominated by a Muslim

NATO Summit held in Prague in November, 2122, 2002.


Bin Laden and the Balkans: The Politics of Anti-Terrorism, ICG Balkans, Report N 1199
November 2001, 9.


majority, could be used not only by religious fundamentalists to extend their influence on
the region but also by some neighbor countries that might want to portray Albania as a
country that harbors, trains and supports terrorists. 157
As much as Albanian solidarity with its strategic ally, 158 this sensitivity to the
reality and the perceptions of Albanias status as a Muslim-majority polity in Europe
begins to explain the Albanian governments overzealous efforts to eradicate all
fundamentalist Islamic influences from the country ensuring that no terrorist cell can
operate from Albanian soil. 159 Yet, another reason is that Albania feared that any horrible
terrorist acts would shift the attention of the West from the problems of small nations,
such as Albania. Thus, in order to prevent abandonment from the West, national efforts
were needed to improve the internal stability and security and embark on the same boat
with the Allies in order to emerge as a reliable partner, which hopefully would accelerate
the integration process. 160 NATO, through a statement regarding Balkans released at the
Brussels Defense Ministers NAC meeting, had made it clear that it will ensure that
NATO forces continue to pursue, within their current mandates and capabilities, actions
against persons suspected to be terrorists, in coordination with appropriate civil
authorities and other international organizations. The Alliance will remain engaged with
local authorities to ensure that the region does not become a safe haven or way station for
terrorist. 161
At the same year, the KFOR COMMZ (W) was transformed into the NATO HQ
Tirana, commanded by a Senior Military Representative who reported directly to the
Commander Allied Joint Force Command Naples. 162 NATO HQ Tiranas mission was to

Council of Ministers Decision Nr.12 Dated 28.1.2002 For the Approval of the National Action
Plan against Terrorism.

U.S. has been engaged actively in support of Albanias Euro-Atlantic integration.


Bin Laden and the Balkans: The Politics of Anti-Terrorism, 8.


Ibid., 6.

NAC Official Statement on the Balkans, issued at the Meeting of the NAC in Defense Ministers
Session held in Brussels, June 6, 2002, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-56527528A2CE70E9/natolive/official_texts_19563.htm.

Allied Command Operations, NATO HQs Tirana, http://www.aco.nato.int/page13612628.aspx

(Accessed 11 November 2012).


facilitate the coordination between the Albanian government and NATO and to assist
Albania in the implementation of defense reforms geared toward future NATO
membership. NATO HQ Tirana was deeply involved in many reforms and defense issues,
providing advice, expertise, and assistance. Of particular note are their efforts to
coordinate border control measures with the involvement of many agencies, their
assistance and advice on Partnership Goals (PG), MAP, and ANPs, and on other defenseand integration-related issues. The cooperation between NHQ Tirana and the Ministry of
Defense developed to a point that the NATO HQ representatives became permanent
participants in MoD meetings.
This close coordination was doubly important. First, Albania was making
excellent use of NATOs assistance and expertise by engaging its representatives in a
wide variety of defense related issues. Second, NATOs involvement in depth with
Albanian defense issues not only increased the transparency and the mutual trust between
the MoD and the alliance but also provided the allies with a clear understanding of the
problems and genuine efforts of Albanians in their path toward integration. Last, but not
least NATO HQ Tirana had an outstanding Civil Military Cooperation CIMIC program,
which included activities in support of the civilian population and which improved
further the positive image of NATO in Albania. 163
Following the national policy for the maximal engagement and support to the
Worldwide Anti-Terrorism coalition, in August 2002, Albania sent a Special Forces
Platoon to Afghanistan. Participation of this contingent in the ISAF framework had full
support from all political parties and the public opinion in Albania. 164 The personnel of
this force were capable, trained, prepared, equipped and motivated to achieve the mission
successfully. They served under the Turkish forces in Kabul, and their main missions
were to provide base security and escorts.

From 20022005 NATO HQ Tirana was involved in different activities in support of Civilian
population in Albania such as providing air lift capabilities to transport food and medicines to the Northern
Parts of Albania that were trapped by the bad weather, providing assistance to improve the local
infrastructure and providing aid and donations to orphans, poor people, and schools.

Ministry of Defense, MAP: Annual National Programs of the Republic of Albania 19992005
(Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center, 2004), 69136.


The decision of Albania to be part of ISAF without delay was consistent with
Albanian foreign policy goals and the integration strategy. Certainly, the participation in
ISAF was associated with many political risks and economic and social costs. First of all,
there was the matter of Albanias Muslim majority. The ISAF operation was somehow
different from the missions in Bosnia or Kosovo, where NATO was perceived as the
protector of the rights of Muslim populations. ISAF was involved in fighting against the
Muslim Taliban, which might have ramified within the Islamic community, especially if
it were being radicalized. This is to say that at best, Albanian support for NATO
integration could have decreased and at worst Albania could find itself a target of
terrorism to be compelled to withdraw from the coalition. Moreover, ISAF involved
greater risks in terms of casualties than the other Peace Support Operations PSOs in
which Albania was participating.
Next, the participation in ISAF came at the moment when Albanian military was
undergoing deep reforms with a very limited defense budget. 165 ISAF diverted valuable
resources from modernization and reconstruction programs, not to mention the other
pressing socioeconomic needs of the nation. Last but not least, the participation in ISAF
could have resulted in total failure of the mission and national embarrassment, showing
that Albania was not capable of providing military capabilities to the alliance. Taking into
consideration the total disintegration of the army only five years ago, this concern too
was entirely at that moment. However, Albanian government firmly decided to continue
to pursue its major objective, Euro-Atlantic integration, aptly assessing that the benefits
of participation in ISAF would outweigh the costs associated with it. Indeed, the cohesion
of all political elites, the public attitude, NATOs assistance, and the outstanding efforts
of the Albanian military would make ISAF participation in the coming years Albanias
biggest PSO.


In 2002 Albanian defense budget was 1.2% of GDP



The Prague Summit

Despite its enthusiastic and energetic approach to NATO integration, Albania was

not invited to join the alliance at the Prague Summit 2002. As Albanian President Alfred
Moisu acknowledged later:
We are aware, however, that we will not be invited to join NATO simply
because of the level of public support for Alliance membership or for our
contribution to NATO-led peacekeeping operations. Rather, when we are
invited to join the Alliance, it will be in recognition of much hard work and the
successful conclusion of a long and comprehensive reform process to bring our
standards in line with those of the Alliance. 166

According to Moisu, Albania's historical political and economic under-development,

internal instability and wider conflict in Southeastern Europe undermined our
membership aspirations at the Prague Summit. 167
The Prague Summit did not discourage Albania, however. On the contrary, it
bolstered Albanian efforts to meet political, economic and military membership criteria.
By inviting seven other aspiring countries to assume full membership, 168 NATO showed
Albania that its enlargement policy was not merely rhetoric but an achievable objective
connected to fulfillment of membership criteria. Furthermore, at the Prague Summit,
Albania was commended for its significant reform progress, its constructive role in
promoting regional stability, and strong support for the Alliance, and was encouraged to
redouble their reform efforts because together with Croatia and Macedonia it
remained under consideration for future membership. 169
Secretary General Lord Robertson reinforced this message during his visit to
Tirana just after the Prague Summit in November 2002. He stressed that the latest wave


Alfred Moisiu, Albanias Relationship with NATO and its Aspirations for Eventual Alliance
Membership, NATO Review, (Spring 2004),



Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were asked to begin
accession talks to join NATO in Prague Summit 2002.

Prague Summit Declaration, (Issued by the Heads of State and Government

participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Prague on 21 November, 2002),


of expansion would not be the last, and Albania must do more to improve border
security and stop the free movement of criminals and traffickers. 170 With such
encouraging words, NATO provided further incentive for Albania to continue vigorously
pursuing its reforms. Prime Minister Fatos Nano said that the Albanian government
understood that in order to fully meet NATO's membership criteria it should continue
doing its "homework" and he hoped to achieve this "over the next three years." 171
In addition to the successful round of enlargement, the Prague Summit was also
important for the documents that were adopted related to the new security environment:
the Prague Capabilities Commitment,172 a Military Concept for the Defense against
Terrorism and the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism.
The Military Concept emphasizes the real threat that the allies face from terrorism
and draws attention to the point that any response would be time critical. Thus it suggests
member nations have the primary responsibility for defense of their populations and
infrastructures, so the Alliance should be prepared to augment nations' efforts. 173 The
concept identifies four roles for NATO's military operations against terrorism: antiterrorism, which includes basically defensive measures from terrorist acts; consequence
management; counterterrorism, which includes primarily offensive measures; and
military cooperation. The military concept urges NATO to be ready to conduct military
operations to engage terrorist groups and their capabilities, as and where required, as
decided by the North Atlantic Council. 174 It showed that the fight against terrorism
would be one of NATOs top priorities for the coming years.
In addition, the alliance bolstered its cooperation with partners in the fight against
terrorism by launching the Partner Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T). The

Robertson Tells Albania, Macedonia NATO Door Remains Open, SETime, November 2002,



North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Prague Capabilities Commitment (PCC), January 14, 2011,

NATO, NATOs Military Concept for Defense against Terrorism, June 8, 2010,



Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T) is an important part of PfP

framework that uses political consultation and a wide variety of activities. 175 The PAP-T
accords with fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as upholding the rule of
law in combating terrorism. 176

The Istanbul Summit

The summit declaration welcomed the progress made by Albania implementing

the MAP, especially its contribution to regional stability and cooperation. NATO
reassured Albania that the door to membership would remained open and encouraged it
to continue pursuing the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership.
The Istanbul Summit 2004 stressed even more the resolve of the alliance to fight
the international terrorism. At this summit, NATO adopted a package of measures, to
include improving intelligence sharing; increasing counter-terrorism cooperation through
NATO's partnerships; enhancing capabilities to defend against terrorism and robust
engagement in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Alliance was committed to continue the
robust efforts in the Balkans to help create conditions in which terrorism cannot flourish
until peace and security were e firmly established and the progressive integration of all
Balkan countries into Euro-Atlantic structures was achieved. 177


The PAP-T, in reality, was a simple plan that, among other measures, put focus on

improving the internal security of partner countries as a measure to impede support for
terrorist groups. While Albania has never been a source of terrorist activities abroad, or a
target of them, the fragile internal security increased the concern of NATO that Albania


NATO. The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism.


Signing the PAP-T the partners agree to ratify all international conventions against terrorism and
take national, sub-regional and regional measures to suppress terrorist activities. These include inter alia
political consultations; operations; issues of military interoperability; defense and force planning and
defense reform; consequence management, including civil emergency planning; air defense and airspace
management; armaments co-operation; border control and security; suppression of financing of terrorism;
prevention of arms and explosives smuggling; science; and arms control and non-proliferation.

NATO, NATOs Policy Guidelines on Counter-Terrorism, May 21, 2012,



might become a safe haven for terrorism. The geographic position of Albania, at the
crossroads of West and East, coupled with weak borders control, weak state institutions,
and consolidated organized crime, made it a favorable transitory place to all kinds of
illegal traffics.
Since 1992, ethnic Albanian organized crime groups have profited greatly from
instability and war in the Balkans to become the fastest growing ethnic criminal presence
in Europe. With operations reaching as far as Australia and the United States, Albanian
groups are the direct distributors of an estimated 40 percent of heroin in West European
markets and may have an indirect role in as much more. 178 Other criminal undertakings
included illegal immigration from Albania, Eastern Europe and Asia, human trafficking
and illegal arms trade. The illegal arms trade has been fed by an estimated 550,000
military weapons, nearly 1 billion rounds of ammunition, and 16 million explosive
devices that were removed from military stockpiles during the rioting of 1997. 179
NATO noted with particular concern the nexus between organized crime and
extremism in the region. The alliance believed that fighting organized crime and
providing effective border control and surveillance was the key of the door to EuroAtlantic integration and to the development of prosperous and democratic stability. 180
NATO throughout its partnership mechanisms such as MAP, PfP, IPP assisted in
identifying, planning and addressing these challenges accordingly respecting the rule of

Smalls Arms and Light Weapons Destruction

Albania and NATO began to cooperate closely on the destruction of the small

arms, light weapons, and stockpiles of ammunition. Albania had inherited from the
period of communist regime 194,000 tons ammunition, distributed in 182 regions and
stored in 955 depots all around the country. The military reforms in post-communist

U.S. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and
Terrorism, by LaVerle Berry, et al., (Washington, DC: October, 2003), 33.

Ibid., 36.


NAC Official Statement on the Balkans. 06 Jun. 2002.


Albania decreased the numbers of military units, ammunition depots, and personnel so
the ammunition stockpile was stored in fewer depots, sometimes exceeding their storage
capacities and breaching the standards of safety. Meanwhile, fewer guards stood duty
amid the draw-downs. At the same time, the ammunition was fast approaching the end of
its shelf life, making it increasingly unstable and dangerous to military personnel and the
surrounding communities. 181 Inventory of the stockpiles had become difficult, leading to
unaccounted fire arms and ammunition that might end up in the hands of organized
criminals or terrorists.
The looting of a large amount of fire arms and ammunition during the civil unrest
in 1997 complicated the situation even more. Around 550,000 military weapons, nearly
1 billion rounds of ammunition, and 16 million explosive devices were removed from
military stockpiles during the rioting of 1997 which potentially might have fed the illegal
traffic of arms 182 In the end, the Albanian government managed to reclaim a
considerable amount of the errant weapons and ammunition, which still had to be
accounted for.
In 2000, NATO established the PfP Trust Fund to assist PfP countries with the
safe destruction of stocks of anti-personnel landmines. 183 Albania was the first country to
take advantage of this initiative. In 2001, under a tailored PfP Trust Fund project, NATO
provided the financial resources and technological training necessary to help Albania
destroy its anti-personnel mine stockpile. The project was directed and managed by
NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) and included the cleanup of
territories bordering Kosovo that had been littered with anti-personnel land mines during
the Kosovo conflict and the destruction of stockpiled land mines. The project was a real
success, destroying 1.6 million anti-personnel land mines.


Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU. 98.


U.S. Library of Congress, Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism, 33.


The NATO PfP Trust Fund was established under 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of
the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines. Albania is signatory and ratified
the convention in 2000.


Stemming from this success, the scope of the NATO/PfP Trust Fund Policy was
expanded to include the destruction of small arms, light weapons, and surplus
munitions. 184 Under NAMSAs management and with the financial assistance of allied
countries, the period 20042007 saw the destruction of 11,500 tons of SALWs. 185 These
projects helped Albania achieve a high-degree of self-sufficiency in explosive ordnance
disposal and ammunition management. 186 This experience also made Albania one of the
leading nations in the process of demilitarization with extensive expertise to offer to other
countries. In fact, the demilitarization plan foresees that in 2013, Albania will have
destroyed it entire excess munitions stockpile.

The First Country in the World without Chemical Weapons

In December 2002, some 16 tons of chemical agents that had belonged to the

military during the communist regime came to light. The existence of these dangerous
chemical agents has been unknown to the post-communist military leadership until their
discovery. Albania quickly revealed the presence of thee chemical agents in its territory,
and took strict measures to store and guard the material. It also sought international
assistance to destroy them.
The United States was prompt to offer cooperation and assistance for the disposal
of the dangerous materials. In 2004, under the Nunn Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction
Program, the United States assisted Albania to realize the safe disposal of the entire
amount of chemical agents turning Albania to be the first country in the world without
chemical weapons.

Border Security and Illegal Trafficking

Because of its maritime proximity to Italy, Albania became the starting-point for

one of the world's busiest illegal-immigration routes. The smugglers used fast boats to
traffic human beings, illegal immigration, weapons, drugs, contraband goods, etc. into
NATO Support Agency, NATO Trust Fund Projects, (n.d.),



NATO, The Disposal of Albanias Anti-personnel Mine Stockpiles, 2003.


Italy and the EU. Illegal immigration was such a normal activity in the early 2000s that
the soon-to-be illegal immigrants boarded the fast boats near city centers as if they were
merely going aboard a water taxi or a tour boat. 187 On the other hand, these activities
generated incomes in a very poor country with a high unemployment rate.
Achieving the border security was important to improve the image of the country
and convince NATO that Albania could contribute in the regional security. The campaign
against international terrorism gave a certain impetus to improving border security. In
November 2001, the council of ministers approved a National Strategy against the illegal
trafficking of human beings. It identified the ways and means to prevent the illegal
traffic. Albania sought closer cooperation among the countries of the region, believing
that illegal trafficking represents a regional concern that demands a regional approach. At
the end of 2001, in Vlora, the epicenter of illegal traffic in Albania, the International
Center for Combatting Illegal Trafficking (ICCIT) was established with the participation
of Germany, Italy, and Greece. 188
NATOs strict position on Border Security urged reforms, institutional
transformation and interagency cooperation to ensure the border security. The
transformation of the NAVY is a case in point. In 2002, the Albanian Navy assumed the
mission of a coast guard. The Navy developed a web of memoranda of understanding
with all the institutions that have interests at sea, establishing for the first time a
coordinated plan to enforce the law at sea. It is important to note that the Navy was the
first armed service to adapt to the new security challenges. In 2004, the Navy together
with the other state agencies conducted its most successful operation to date, called
PUNA. During this operation, more than a dozen fast boats were intercepted or
destroyed and some key criminals were arrested. Although it is unrealistic to claim that
the illegal traffic was completely stopped, the operation was important not only for doing
considerable damage to the international network but also for increasing the confidence


Adriatic Crossing, Unstoppable People- and Drug-Trafficking in the Balkans, The Economist,
March 11, 2004, http://www.economist.com/node/2504420.

Membership Action Plan, 20012002, 156.


of the state agencies and proving that interagency cooperation was key to law
enforcement at sea.
Border security was further enhanced by the acceptance of the counterterrorismrelated Partnership Goals (PG)s that were included in the PG package Albania accepted
in 2004. PGs are interoperability objectives accepted by the partner country in order to
develop capabilities that can be used to support or to be integrated with NATO forces. 189
Although the objectives are voluntary, they are important because first of all they test the
commitment of the partner country to provide contribution in the alliance. PGs are
included in the PARP process, which is similar to the NATO planning process, and the
implementation progress is monitored closely. The PGs required that by 2006, all border
patrol and coast guard vessels surveillance equipment be modernized, the personnel be
trained to conduct boarding operations properly and a Communication & Information
(CI) System be in place and able to share information with national and international
security agencies. 190 In 2007, all these objectives were declared implemented.
The Navy embarked on a transformation plan that aimed to adapt to the concept
One Navy, two missions. 191 Accordingly, the Navys tasks increased, including among
them the fight against terrorism, the fight against illegal trafficking, illegal immigration,
search and rescue, etc. The plan foresaw the replacement of heavy gunned naval ships
with new, fast, multipurpose ships able to be used in a wide range of operations. The
modernization plan also included the procurement of a new and modern Integrated Sea
Surveillance System to increase the Navys monitoring capabilities. Both projects were
financed by the defense budget and cost around $50 million.


Astrit Gjunkshi, NATO Integration and National Interest (Tirana: Military Press and Publication
Center, 2006), 17.

Ministry of Defense, Partnership Goals (PG)s (Tirana: Military Press and Publication Center,
2006), 3839.

The concept means that in addition to the traditional Navy mission to protect the sovereignty of the
country the navy will also conduct law enforcement at sea.



Albanian Navy-CC MAR Naples Cooperation

The Navy emerged as the leading agency in the maritime security issues. It

developed capabilities to ensure maritime situational awareness through promotion of

regional cooperation, encouraging of interagency cooperation and modernization of
assets. Due to these efforts it was able to exchange intelligence and reliable information
with NATO. The Maritime Component Command (CC MAR) of Joint Force Command
(JFC) Naples played a distinguished role in mentoring and supporting the Navys
transformation. CC MAR Naples through the Accession and Integration Working Group
(AIWG) activities which include seminars, Mobile Training Teams (MTT), port visits etc
advised and assisted Albanian Navy to transform according the NATO standards. CC
MAR Naples introduced Albanian Navy with the Operation Active Endeavour (OAE),
the ongoing counter terrorism maritime operation in Mediterranean. In 2007, the
Albanian Navy and the CC MAR Naples signed an Operational Agreement for the
participation of Albania in the OAE. According to the agreement Albania will share
maritime information with CC MAR Naples.
CC MAR Naples assisted Albanian Navy to improve the Maritime Situational
Awareness. In 2007 CC MAR Naples installed in Albania the first Automatic
Identification System (AIS) transponder which transmitted via internet to the Operational
Center in Naples real time data about the ship maritime traffic in Albania. At the same
time a dedicated secure line was established to share sensitive information. The
commitment to share maritime information with NATO gave a big impetus to the
interagency cooperation. The navy led a dynamic campaign to promote interagency
cooperation which was consolidated in the coming years.

Participating in Regional Initiatives in the Context of Euro-Atlantic

Regional cooperation and initiatives were another way that NATO promoted the

security of the region. Albania participated in a great number of bilateral and regional
cooperation initiatives and agreements focused on enhancing security. Two regional
initiatives were particularly important in fostering regional cooperation as part of the

process of Euro-Atlantic integration: US-Adriatic Charter-3 (A3) and South Eastern

Defense Ministerial. Adriatic Charter-3 was signed in 2003 by Albania, Croatia,
Macedonia and the United States. The charter, facilitated by the United States, aimed to
increase the cooperation among the three NATO aspirant countries in order to coordinate
their efforts toward Euro-Atlantic integration. The high level of cooperation achieved in
this initiative is evidence of the progress these countries have made in adopting NATO
methods and procedures of cooperation and political consultation. 192
One of the biggest achievements of the initiative was the contribution to the ISAF
Operation in 2005 with a rotating joint medical team. Albania contributes to two doctors
and two nurses to the team. This contribution has a symbolic value because first of all it
shows the resolve of A3 countries to cooperate under the NATO-integration perspective.
It also shows that the countries have reached the maturity to overcome regional issues
and provide humanitarian assistance to distant countries. Finally the joint medical team
showed that the countries, although their relatively small economies, de facto are able to
raise capabilities to support NATO operations. The success of the initiative led to its
enlargement in 2008 with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEEDM).

SEEDM was established in 1996 when Defense Ministers of Albania, Bulgaria,

Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Turkey and the U.S. Defense Secretary met in Tirana to
discuss and decide about effective ways for developing cooperation, common
understanding and mutual confidence in the Southeastern Europe. 193 The initiative played
a considerable role in promoting the Euro-Atlantic integration of NATO non-member
countries which by cooperating with member countries in the framework of peace and
security had another way to share experience, interact and show their determination to
deserve the NATO membership. The initiative was able to develop several projects such


Gjunkshi, NATO Integration and National Interest, 20.


Currently there are 14 full members and 2 observers.


as Military Support to WMD Counter-Proliferation, Border Security and Counter

Terrorism (CBSC) Project. 194
However, the most representative feature of the initiative is the Multinational
Peace Force Southeastern Europe commonly referring as (SEEBRIG). SEEBRIGs
mission is to engage in conflict prevention operations or other operations in support of
peace under an UN-mandated NATO-EU led missions. SEEBRIG is an infantry brigade
composed by the forces from the SEDM countries. In 2004 the brigade was certified Full
Operational Capacity (FOC) by a NATO assessment team and in 2006 was deployed in
Peace Support Operation in Afghanistan as part of ISAF. The participation in
Afghanistan is recognized as the greatest success of SEDM.


The change of the government after the 2005 elections did not change the

strategic objectives of Albanias foreign policy. The new government program stated
firmly: [T]he integration in the Euro-Atlantic security structures is the primary strategic
objective of the foreign policy of Albania. This priority is and will remain the priority of
all governments. 195
In the Istanbul Summit NATO had welcomed the efforts made by Albania and
encouraged Albania to do more to carry on reforms, to fight corruption and organized
crime to provide border security and to respect the rule of law. The new government,
which came to power with the slogan Time to change, 196 declared zero tolerance in the
fight against corruption and organized crime. The Penal Code was amended and
introduced tougher sanctions for crimes of corruption, organized crime and terrorism.
Particularly special was the introducing of a three year moratorium which banned the use
of fast boats in the coast of Albania in order to stop the illegal trafficking. Taking this
extreme security measure, which obviously infringes the human rights and civil liberties,
shows that border security was very high in the political agenda. The maritime

SEDM, SEDM Process in Brief, http://www.seebrig.org/sedm/item/187-sedm-process.html


Gjunkshi, NATO Integration and National Interest, 15.


Time to change meant fight against the organized crime and corruption to speed up integration


moratorium encountered some criticism by the opposition party and by representatives of

the civil society but interestingly enough it was accepted largely by the population, which
was willing to give up some freedom in order to achieve border security as a prerequisite
to join the Euro-Atlantic alliance.
The government supported the Armed Forces Reforms and modernization plans
keeping the promise to increase the defense budget annually until it reached the objective
of 2 percent in 2008. The government financed major modernization project such as the
Integrated Coastal Surveillance System, the four-large patrol boats project, C4I
equipment, etc. The increasing of defense budget was another critical choice that the
government had to make in order to prepare the Armed Forces to be interoperable with
The pre-invitation period was characterized by an intensification of NATOAlbania political and military relations. In 2006, Secretary General Scheffer visited
Tirana. In his speech in the parliament he appreciated the reforms and stated that the
allies saw the seriousness and determination with which Albania is pursuing the
necessary reforms in a very favorable light. 197 He ensured the members of parliament
that Albanias integration was no longer a question of if but when. 198
In 2006, Prime Minister Sali Berisha visited Brussels to discuss Albanias
progress at the end of the eighth cycle of MAP. The Council of Ambassadors lauded
Albania for its defense reforms and the strict measures against corruption, organized
crime and illegal trafficking. Albania was also commended for its foreign policy, its role
as a moderator in the security and stability of the region and its contribution in the fight
against international terrorism. Prime Minister Berisha renewed the steadfast
determination of the government to achieve NATO integration and told that an ad hoc


Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Speech by NATO Secretary General, (issued at the Albanian Parliament,
July 6, 2006), http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2006/s060706a.htm.



NATO integration parliamentary committee was established in order to facilitate the

process. 199
In 2007 Albania enhanced its contribution to ISAF with a company from the
Rapid Reaction Brigade with 112 military personnel. At the end of 2007 Albanian Armed
Forces engaged in international PSO in one single rotation reached 355 personnel or
almost 6 percent of all operational land forces. This measure demonstrated that Albania
was keeping its promise to become a security provider.

NATO-Albania Military Relations intensified

In the period 20052007, Albania hosted three major NATO-PfP exercises. In

2005, Albania hosted the Exercise Cooperative Engagement, the biggest ever
conducted in the region, with the participation of 1500 military personnel, more than 20
ships and four helicopters from NATO and partner countries, which trained together in
Crisis Response Operations. 200 The exercise tested also Albanias host nation capabilities
and the public reaction to such a large NATO military presence in the country. The
maritime exercise drew a lot of attention of the local population who visited the ships and
participated in CIMIC activities. Amid this public enthusiasm the exercise seemed to be
more than a simple political and military event. 201
In 2007, Albania hosted two exercises in the framework of the PfP called
Cooperative Longbow 07 and Cooperative Lancer 07. Approximately 1,100 military
personnel from seven NATO countries and 13 partner nations participated in the exercise.
The objective of these exercises was to promote interoperability between NATO and
Partner forces when conducting a complex and dynamic crises response operation. 202


Sali Berisha, Joint Press Point with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, (issued on
Brussels on January 30, 2007), http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2008/s080130a.html.

NATO, NATO Exercises with Partners in the Adriatic Sea, September 12, 2005,

General Staff of Albania, Cooperative Engagement 05- not merely a Military Exercise,

NATO, NATO Exercises with Partners in Albania: Initial Press Release Exercises Cooperative
Longbow 07 and Cooperative Lancer 07, http://www.nato.int/fchd/fchdold/news/2007/n070918a.htm.


In 2007, the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) conducted a port visit
in Durres, Albania. Prime Minister Berisha noted the presence of the NATO ships in the
port of Durres as another sign of excellent relations that Albania has established and is
being consolidating more and more with NATO. 203 The ships drew a lot of attention
from the local people, who waited in long lines to visit the ships. The SNMG2 conducted
many CIMIC activities including charity works and sport activities in order to establish
close relations with the local community.

NATO-Albania relation intensified after Albania joined MAP. MAP proved to be

a handy tool to guide and check Albanias plans and efforts in the integration process.
The security documents that were adopted were developed under the supervision of
NATO and were based completely on NATOs strategic concept. These documents made
a realistic assessment of the security environment and chose the Euro-Atlantic integration
and regional cooperation as the best way to achieve peace and stability in the region. The
post-September 11 events marked a closer cooperation between NATO and Albania.
Albania successfully adapted to the new security environment and to changes that NATO
itself was undergoing. Albania did not hesitate to embark on the fight against
international terrorism showing the alliance that it was ready to contribute to the
collective security. Albania used political consultation with NATO and embarked on
deep reforms in order to improve the internal security, fight organized crime, illegal
trafficking. It made good use of NATO advice and assistance to dispose the large amount
of ammunitions inherited from the old regime denying the criminals and the terrorist to
get them. The military reforms transformed the military in a modern professional one
focused on joint concept and interoperability with NATO. The military adapted
successfully to the new missions and developed capabilities to conduct operations against
terrorism and crises response operations.


PM Berisha Meets the Commander of SNMG2, Rear Admiral Ertugrul, March 3, 2008, http://


Regional Euro-Atlantic prospective provided the incentive to regional cooperation

to foster mutual confidence and understanding. The biggest success of these initiatives
was developing joint capabilities to deploy in NATO led crises response operations. The
public and political support to the integration process has been unsheltered. This explains
some extreme measures taken to improve border control in the face of human rights, such
as the maritime moratorium. In the view of the fight against terrorism NATO-Albania
relations helped improve the internal security through consultation, advice, technical
assistance and planning. The soft power of the Alliance and the democratic values it
represents influenced the public to identify terrorism as national threat and condemn it. It
is interesting the fact that in a study conducted in 2008 terrorism was listed second major
threat to the security in a country which never experienced serious terrorist acts. 204 The
emphasis that the government and the West put on the fight against international
terrorism might be a reasonable explanation for this though. All these listed above denied
terrorists to use Albania as a safe heaven. On the other hand, Albania was able to
contribute to the alliance modest but symbolically important military contingents
showing understanding of the alliance spirit and collective security concept.


Albanian Perceptions on NATO Integration, Institute for Democracy and Mediation, 2007, 35.




Secretary General Scheffer, in his speech at the Albanian Parliament in 2006,

stated that NATO enlargement was a performance-based process. 205 But he also
clarified that once Albania had done what was expected from it, NATO would keep its
own part of the deal, opening its doors. 206 Scheffer with these words actually gave a clear
positive message for Albania that joining NATO for Albania was no longer a question
of if but of when. 207
In the event, Albania received the invitation to join NATO at the Bucharest
Summit in 2008, thereby realizing one of its two major foreign policy goals. (The other,
as yet in progress, is joining the EU.) The accession protocol was signed in July 2008.
After the ratification of the accession protocol by the parliaments of each member state,
in 2009, Albania was warmly welcomed as member, together with Croatia, at the
Kehl/Strasbourg NATO summit.208
The NATO invitation was a major historical event for Albania. The euphoric
words of the Albanian PM Sali Berisha at the Bucharest summitThis is a miracle of
freedom indeed convey the enthusiasm of the people of a country that, less than two
decades earlier under a ruthless communist regime, had used all of its resources to defend
itself against NATO, at least as the old leadership had understood the organization.
Certainly the Alliance put a lot of trust in inviting Albania to join the Alliance, which is
in fact, one of the qualities of the Alliance. Berisha, remarked on this trust, and called it
the great responsibility of my nation toward your nations. Berisha solemnly vowed to
carry out every reform, adopt and implement any decision and law to reach and

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Speech by Secretary General, (Speech held at the Albanian Parliament,
Tirana, Albania, July 6, 2006), http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2006/s060706a.htm.





Elmaz Leci, Albania in NATO from strategy to reality,



consolidate the political, social, economic and military standards of NATO member
states.209 In reality that was what both NATO and the people of Albania wanted to hear.
Several studies agree that joining NATO provides incentive for some countries to
speed up reforms and achieve integration objectives. However, there is a general belief
that once the country enters the Alliance and the carrot disappears, the commitment to
reform dwindles, as well. Albania showed a strong commitment to fulfill membership
conditions. The path was difficult because Albania had to embark on significant reforms
in several sectors to consolidate democracy and revamp the defense sector. An important
achievement was the establishment of a positive image of Albania as a security factor in
the troubled region of Balkans and in the fight against terrorism. More importantly,
Albania retained its high level of motivation where NATO-related reform is concern, and
the process of modernization, westernization, democratization, and integration continues
apace. As Scheffer noted, although there was still a lot of work to do in many areas,
Albanias sustained and earnest determination to act in the spirit of Alliance was seen in a
very favorable light by the allies. 210 This chapter explores this final stage of Albanias
journey to NATOwhich also may be understood as the phase of complete EuroAtlantic integration and democratic consolidation. It looks at the real costs and benefits
of membership for Albania, as well as the trends and developments that may continue
and those that may changein the years to come.

Interestingly, no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis was done until Albania

received the NATO invitation. Even then, the analysis was kept at the academic and
expert level and was not explained to the public. A survey carried out by an IDM team
from March to May 2007 and sponsored by NATO identified a NATO-friendly
Albanian audience which [was] quite optimistic about the process of NATO integration
in the country. However, the survey suggested that the public was not well informed on
NATO integration process:

Sali Berisha, Address by Prime Minister Berisha at NATO Bucharest Summit, Weekly News,
no.44, April 2008, 3, http://www.km.gov.al/skedaret/44.pdf.

Scheffer, Speech by Secretary General,


Yet, high levels of DONT KNOW answers and other inconsistencies

particularly with regard to factors influencing security matters or
consequences deriving from the NATO integration process lead to the
conclusion that respondents often offer their support to whats necessary
for membership without giving too much thought to technicalities of the
process. 211
The same issue was raised at the Regional Conference the Costs and Benefits of
NATO Membership held in Tirana in May 2008. At the conference, it was pointed out
that the expected NATO membership of Albania and other countries of the Adriatic
Charter was taking place in a process not very well understood not only by the public but
also by such important actors as the private sector, academia, and the media.
In Albania, the public discourse focused more on the positive sides of the
membership. The politicians very seldom mentioned the costs of the membership, while
the media focused on political issues and other concerns related to efforts in the
framework of NATO integration. There might be two reasons for this tendentious
coverage. First, there was massive public support and enthusiasm to join NATOso
much so that, in reality, there was little room for a detailed discussion of the costs and
benefits of NATO membership. For the majority of the Albanian people NATO
membership meant joining the West, and the obvious, if ill-defined, benefits clearly
outran any costs. Second, because joining NATO was so popular, politicians did not want
to risk losing favor by digging into the costs of it. Not surprisingly, the governments
slogan at that time was membership at any cost. The result was a curiously uninformed
public discourse at all levels. For example, while the public fully supported Albanias
membership in NATO, a vocal segment of the population opposed the 2 percent of GDP
level for the defense budget that NATO membership presupposed. 212


Gjergji Vurmo and Enis Sulstarova, Albanian Perception on NATO Integration, Institute for
Democracy and Mediation (IDM): Centre for European and Security Affairs, June 2007, 15,

Ibid., 31.



The Costs of NATO Membership

It is possible to identify two categories of costs associated with NATO

membership: defense-related direct costs and indirect non-military costs.

Defense-related direct costs are those that are related directly with the accession
of Albania to the Alliance, including the cost of defense reforms needed to provide the
contribution of Albania in the collective defense and other NATO missions and
operations. 213 These costs include: 214

The membership cost. This is the countrys financial contribution that goes to the
common budget of the Alliance. For Albania, it is estimated to represent 0.05
percent to 0.1 percent of the NATO budgetabout $2.5 million.

The cost of maintaining the defense budget: The member country is expected to
maintain a defense budget equal to 2 percent of its GDP. This rate is needed to
develop defense capabilities to defend the country and capabilities to contribute to
NATO missions. The defense budget is important to sustain the modernization of
the armed force according to the NATO standards.

The cost of participating in NATO operations. This category includes the cost of
equipping training, deploying, providing logistics, establishing command and
control for the troops participating in NATO operations. Until present Albania
covered only 20 percent of this cost while the remaining amount was covered by
ally countries. Albania is expected to cover 100 percent of this cost as NATO

The cost of the civilian and military representation in NATO HQs and other
structures. There are around 40 positions for military and around the same number
of positions to be filled by civilians. Their salaries and other expenses relating to
their job are covered by the country.


Shklqim Cani and Merita Shehu, Albanias Cost of NATO Membership, in in Costs and Benefits
of NATO Membership: The Challenges of Albania and the Region after the Bucharest Summit, (Tirana:
Institute for Democracy and Mediation, 2008), 36.

Ibid., 37-49.


The cost of participating in NATO activities such as NATO exercises, seminars,

workshops and trainings that are required to achieve the interoperability with the
Allies. The cost of participation in these activities before the membership has
been covered by the Alliance.

The cost of development of infrastructure in order to fulfill the requirements of

the host nation. The member state is required to offer its infrastructure to be used
by NATO if needed. This infrastructure should meet the standards of the Alliance.
These direct military costs are a burden on the economy of the country. Lets not

forget that although the economic development of the recent years Albania remains one
of the poorest countries of Europe with the lowest GDP per capita. The money of the
taxpayers that might be needed for building hospitals, schools, or improve the economy is
going to defense. This is even harder to explain in the absence of an immediate external
threat to the national security. About 90 percent of the participants in a survey think that
the external threat to Albania is very low. 215 Some of them think that we dont need to
spend much on defense because we are protected by NATO. This is the public should be
informed on the requirements that should be meet, the cost and the benefits of the NATO
In addition to defense related costs that are easier to calculate there is another
category of costs, namely indirect-nonmilitary costs. These costs are hard to evaluate
because they implicate political and social aspects.

The NATO membership limits the sovereignty of the member country and
making it subject of collective defense decisions is a political cost.

Another political cost might be the loss of public support due to participation of
troops in NATO PSO, or other operations. In case of casualties the public
pressure on the government is expected to increase.

A political cost might be also the likelihood of targeting Albania because of her
support to NATO missions. For example, the support of Albania to the fight


Vurmo and Sulstarova, Albanian Perception on NATO Integration, 17.


against terrorism is well known internationally. This might turn it into a target for
the terrorists trying to force the people to stop the public support to governments
anti-terrorism policies.

The NATO membership will require the implantation of many reforms and
measures to ensure the implementation of law, tax collection, customs control,
and border control. Tough measures are taken to fight corruption organized crime.
All of these measures are associated with considerable costs.

The abolition of the informal economy the short term will have social
implications to the small businessmen who make their living based on the
informal economy.

The defense reforms aim to create small professional armed forces. This means
that many military personnel have to leave the military. This fact has negative
implications on social security schemes and on the integration of these middle
aged ex-military personnel.

Many observers think that the cost of membership in terms of financial expenditures
is not an extra cost to the budget of the country because that cost, or even greater,
would have been spent anyway for the defense of the country. 216 Saying that, national
security experts put forward that taking into consideration the poor economy, the
limited resources of the country, the backward military technology, the regional
instability and the nature of the 21st century threats it would have been very hard to
protect the national interest.

The Benefits of NATO Membership

The benefits of NATO membership encompass a wide range of fields from

defense and security sectors to economic factors. For one example, Albanian national
interest is related to the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians living in five different


Sherefedin Shehu, Albanias Cost of NATO Membership, (Speech by the Deputy Minister of
Finance held at the regional conference Costs and Benefits of NATO Membership: The Challenges of
Albania and the Region after the Bucharest Summit, Tirana, Albania, May 2008) in Costs and Benefits of
NATO Membership: The Challenges of Albania and the Region after the Bucharest Summit,
(Tirana:Institute for Democracy and Mediation, 2008), 14.


countries in Balkans: Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The ethnic
conflicts of Kosovo and Macedonia involving ethnic Albanians thus posed a substantial
threat to the Albanian national interest. NATOs intervention in both cases kept Albania
out of involving itself directly in a bloody, endless regional war, for which the Balkans
had won a bad reputation. It is true that Albania, today, does not recognize an external
threat to its national interest but this happy fact is partly thanks to the stability that EuroAtlantic perspective has brought to the region. That is, NATO membership brings
stability to the region and serves the national interest.
NATO has guided and continues to assist Albania throughout the reform of its
security sector in order to achieve full integration. Through the strategic concept and
other NATO strategic documents, Albania can identify such new threats to its security as
terrorism, and fight against them collectively with the Allies. Civilian control of the
military ensures the development of the fragile democracy, even in times of acute
domestic unrest. The armed forces transformation, modernization, and training with the
Allies continue, making them able to face the threats and challenges of our time.
In addition, being part of the most powerful security organization based on
democracy and the respect for human rights improves the image of the country. It
guarantees to neighboring countries that Albania is a stable democracy able to cooperate
to improve the security in the region. In economic terms, it guarantees foreign investors
can make safe investments in the economy of Albania. 217 It also attracts more tourists
who are eager to visit a country that is rich in natural, historical, and archeological
attractions but that is also safe.
The rosy glow of NATO membership radiates beyond Albanias border in terms
of a positive image of the state and its government as an international partner. Albania,
after membership, has a stronger voice in the realm of international relations. Albania has
been invited to join countless regional and international security, economic, and cultural,
initiatives and agreements, increasing its cooperation with the international community.


Romania and Bulgaria reported increment of foreign investments right after joining NATO.

Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU


A good indicator of the improvement of the international positions of Albania is its

successful lobbying for the international recognition of independence of Kosovo. At
present Kosovos independence is recognized by 94 states, of which 22 are EU members,
while 24 are NATO countries. 218
Additionally NATO membership provides solid support to the relatively new
democracy of Albania by urging it to complete the legal reforms to establish a full
consolidated democracy. By submitting part of the national sovereignty to the Alliance of
Democracies in fact Albanians receive some kind of warranty that the ruling political
parties will take all measures needed for the process of democratization. 219 Furthermore,
NATO membership is seen as an important and indispensable step before achieving the
other major objective of the government: joining the EU. Most of the reforms required by
NATO are also conditions set by the EU. With NATO membership, the chances of
Albania to join the EU are doubled.
Finally there is a moral benefit for Albania as well. As, Deputy Minister of
Defense, Arian Starova, put it:
it is the special consideration all the Albanians have with regard to the
NATO intervention in Kosovo in the year 1999 to give an end to the
genocide atrocities of the Milosevics regime against the Albanians there
[and] being conscious of their historic sufferings Albanians in turn want to
play their gratifying role for the freedom and security of the other
peoples 220
This quote complements the explanation of wide support for Albanian
contribution to NATO PSObut makes the Albanian reluctance to publicize the points in
cost-benefit terms even more mystifying. In the end, a cost-benefit analysis not only
would have underscored even more the importance of the membership, but also would

Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia are the only NATO countries which dont recognize Kosovo

After suffering 45 years in a totalitarian communist regime and almost 20 years in a difficult
transition to democracy there is not too much faith in the political parties. Political parties often try to earn
western support in order to make themselves reliable in the eyes of the public. In this case NATO plays an
increased role in the internal stability of the country.

Arian Starova, Albania a Determined Member of NATO, Common Defense Quarterly, 2010,


have helped Albanians understand the process better, laying the groundwork to achieve
the standards more easily.


One of the concerns of the Alliance about enlargement is that new members tend

not to keep the same level of commitment and contribution after they graduate from
candidacy to full membership. This was the case with the seven countries that joined
NATO in 2005. In contrast, Albania pressed on with its NATO involvement, increased
the range of engagements in NATO operations and increased the quantity and the quality
of its contribution according to the Alliance principle of burden-sharing. This
perseverance justified Albanias listing among the five members that set an example in
fulfilling their membership obligations. 221

Enhancing Contribution to ISAF

Almost one year into its NATO membership, Albania sent to Herat, under Italian

command, another company composed of 110 personnel from its elite army Commando
Regiment (RRB). With this enhancement, the number of Albanian military personnel
engaged in mission in Herat in one single rotation reached 220 while the total number of
servicemen engaged in Herat since 2007 over passes 1700. 222
In August 2010, Albania contributed for the first time to ISAF with a contingent
of 45 members of Special Forces Battalion of the Army. The contingent, named Eagle,
served as part of the U.S. Army 525th Brigade and participated in direct combat
operations in Kandahar. This mission was a considerable political risk taken by the
Albanian government. The fact that, until then, there were no casualties for Albanian
personnel participating in PSOs owed mostly to the nature of the missions, which were
not very exposed to combat operations. Moreover, this engagement in direct combat
missions in Afghanistan might have backfired on Albania in terms of hostility by Islamic

Hysen Hoxhalli, Albanias NATO Membership: Approach and Reality, Mbrojtja, No. 11, 2006,
20 25.

Ministry of Defense of Albania, Ongoing Peacekeeping Operations, (n.d.),

d=667 (accessed November 10, 2012)


extremists to Albanian troops in Afghanistan or to Albania more generally. (Albanian

soldiers had won a good reputation in Iraq and Afghanistan not only due to their common
culture and religious values but also because of their nature of their non-combatengagement there.) In this context, this decision of the Albanian government was a real
courageous one.
Eagle 1 was a real military and political success. Albanian personnel were
praised by their allied counterparts for their professionalism and bravery. 223 The
Albanian Army showed that it was able to conduct substantially much more difficult
missions reliably. At the same time, Albania demonstrated that it was able to take
political risk and respect its collective security obligations. The Eagle missions
continue in six-month rotations. More than 150 elite military personnel served in Eagle
missions in Kandahar.
In August 2011, Albania increased its contribution to the ISAF mission; with 20
military personnel in the Operational Mentoring Liaison Team (OMLT) deployed to
Kabul. 224 The mission of this OMLT is to train, support, and develop a Support
Combating Battalion of the Afghan National Army (ANA) capable of a wide spectrum of
operations at the battalion level. To date, more than 50 Albanian military personnel are
engaged in OMLT joined teams. In addition, Albania provided representatives in several
missions related to ISAF, such as the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, the
Provincial Reconstruction Team, ISAF HQs, A-5 POMLT under the A-5 Charter, and so
Albania is one of the largest troop contributors to ISAF as a percentage of
population and GDP. Since July 2003, more than 2600 military personnel have been
engaged in ISAF operation. 225 This sum equals about 20 percent of the total number of
the armed forces. In addition to its military contribution, Albania at the Bratislava NATO

Gjenerali Petreaus: Ushtart Shqiptar n Afganistan, Trima, National News Agencies, January
18, 2011,

Joint team with the National Guard of the State of New Jersey.


Ministry of Defense of Albania, Minister of Defenses Visit in Afghanistan, January 18, 2011,


Ministerial, held in October 2009, committed itself to provide non-military assistance to

Afghanistan, as well. These measures included providing trainers to assist the
development of the Afghan military and police force, sending a medical team to assist the
civilian population, reconstructing or building eight schools in poor regions of
Afghanistan, and providing 100 scholarships to Afghan students who would like to study
at Albanian universities. 226
This non-military assistance to Afghanistan drew international attention,
particularly the measures to improve education in Afghanistan. The Deutche Welle asked
Minister of Defense, Arben Imami, to explain the decision to finance education in
Afghanistan while is well known that Albania needs to improve its own education
infrastructure, too. 227 Minister Imami explained that, first of all, Albania as a NATO
member had some obligations to fulfill.228

Maintaining a Stable Defense Budget

Albania also kept its defense budget at a steady 1.5 percent of GDP. This

commitment was a difficult one in light of the global economic crises. In 2011, only two
NATO members passed the 2-percent NATO objective, while 17 countries were below
1.5 percent, showing a decreasing trend in the last years. 229 The Albanian Armed Forces
continued such modernization projects as building three additional Iliria-class patrol
boats and the procurement of five multi-role Cougar helicopters from Eurocopter
both significant outlays in a time of financial pressure from all sides. Moreover, the
project of building a self-sustainable battle-group battalion, able to participate in NATO
mission by 2014, proceeds according the plan.

Ministry of Defense of Albania, Interview with Mr. Arben IMAMI, Minister of Defence of the
Republic of Albania for the magazine Coalition (published at the nr. 70 of the magazine"Coalition"),

Kontributi i Shqipris m Kompleks n NATO, Deutche Welle, November 23, 2011,




North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Financial and Economic Data Relating to NATO Defense,
2012, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_85966.htm?mode=pressrelease.



Passing the Casualty Test

NATO commanders have found it increasingly difficult to persuade members to

stay in Afghanistan in the face of mounting death tolls and domestic opposition. 230 For
example, France ended its combat mission in Afghanistan earlier than planned after a
series of killings of French soldiers. 231 Italy, Slovenia, and Poland also withdrew their
troops amid domestic pressure after the death toll among their soldiers rose.
Albanian military personnel had suffered no casualties in 16 years 232 of
engagement in PSOs. The limited exposure to combat operations partly accounts for that.
This luck did not hold for Albanias involvement in Afghanistan. In February 2012,
Albanian Captain Feti Vogli was shot dead and Corporal Aleksander Peci was severely
wounded after an Afghan policeman treacherously opened fire on them. They were part
of the Eagle 4 contingent and that day they were on a reconnaissance mission together
with their American counterparts in Spin Boldak, Kandahar. Their mission was to
provide protection to intelligence officers who talking with locals about how to open a
school and a medical center in a village. 233
The news of the death of the Special Forces captain shocked the whole county and
received unprecedented media coverage. Captain Vogli was honored with the highest
medal, the Martyr of the Nation. The whole population of Albania united to pay
homage to him. The highest state representatives, the President of the Republic, Prime
Minister, Speaker of the Parliament, Ministers, political party leaders, ambassadors,


Italy to withdraw Troops from Afghanistan, The Telegraph, October 12, 2010,

France ends Afghan Combat Mission Early, BBC News, November

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20417134 (accessed November 28, 2012)



Albanias first engagement in PSO was in SFOR Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996.


Letra nga Afganistani zbardh Sulmin kundr Voglit: U Vra Pabesisht nga Polici Afgan MAPO,
(January 2012), http://www.mapo.al/2012/02/26/letra-nga-afganistani-zbardh-sulmin-kunder-voglit-u-vrapabesisht-nga-polici-afgan/.


representatives of religious communities thousands of military personnel and citizens

paid tribute and bowed before of the lifeless body of Captain Vogli. 234
Prime Minister Berisha declared solemnly that his soul [would] rest on the altar
of liberty of both the Albanian and Afghan nations for which he sacrificed his life. 235
Chief of General Staff Major General Xhemal Gjunkshi praised Vogli for serving with
bravery and fortitude and honoring his flag and nation. 236 The Minister of Defense,
Arben Imami, said that the heroic act of Captain Feti Vogli, makes the Armed Forces
personnel feel proud before the people and Nation. 237 Opposition leader Edi Rama also
expressed gratitude for his highest patriotic service. 238 He saw the ultimate sacrifice of
Captain Vogli as an invaluable contribution of the small Albania for the big democratic
world. 239
This positiveand unifiedpolitical and public reaction to the first loss of life of
military personnel in a PSO operation is closely related to at least two factors. First, there
is a strong belief that the participation of Albanian troops in ISAF serves the right cause
of the free world in the fight against the terrorism. Second, thousands of years of
Albanian history pay great tribute and honors to those who bravely fall in the line of duty,
fighting for a just cause.
Prime Minister Berisha, in a phone call with General John Allen, Commander of
ISAF, assured the American commander that the Albanian Armed Forces and the
Albanian government continue to believe strongly that ISAF troop will fulfill
Ministry of Defense, Captain Feti Vogli, Martyr of the Nation, Escorted to the Last Dwelling,
February 24, 2012,



Chief of General Staff General Major Xhemal Gjunkshi, (Speech held at the homage ceremony of
Captain Vogli),



Sulmi n Afganistan, vdes 1 Komando Shqiptar, Tjetri n Koma, Balkanweb, February 20, 2012



successfully its historical mission; more importantly, he declared that Albania is

dedicated to continue its contribution to this mission.240 In the same vein, General
Xhemal Gjunkshi, in a phone call with General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Military Chairman
of Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that the heroic fall of Captain Vogli did not shake the
determination of Albania to participate in PSO operations [alongside] the U.S. allies.241
At the NATO Chicago Summit, held in May 2012, Prime Minister Berisha repeated
Albanias commitment to keep its troops in Afghanistan as long as NATO was thereif
necessary even beyond 2014.

Consultation with NATO, Warranty for Democracy

The helpful and well-tried practice of consultation with NATO on sensitive issues

continued even after Albania acceded to full membership. It is understandable that

member countries should consult each other on daily basis on various issues. However,
two issuesand the public attention that the Albanian- NATO consultations received
suggest that in this case, consultation has an added value.
In 2010, the Albanian government prepared a draft amendment for the Law on the
Intelligence Service. Broadly stated, the general reason for the amendment was to
increase the efficiency of the Intelligence Service by giving more control to the
government. The draft amendment generated a heated political debate in Albania, which
tends to take a dim view of the Intelligence Service, as is the case in all ex-communist
countries. Giving more control over it to the Prime Minister was viewed very skeptically
by a public wary of a political police force. Not only the opposition party, but also
government coalition parties refused to vote on the law without first consulting with
NATO on the draft amendment. 242 The draft amendment was suspended. Since then,
NATOs answer or comments to the draft have not been made public, but NATO

Sulmi n Afganistan, vdes 1 Komando Shqiptar, Tjetri n Koma, Balkanweb.

Gjunkshi siguron SHBA: Nuk lkundemi nga Rnia e Kapiten Voglit, Balkanweb, February 27,
2012, http://www.balkanweb.com/bw_lajme2.php?IDNotizia=82689&IDCategoria=1.
Berisha tjetr Tentativ pr t kontrolluar SHISH, rikthen Konfliktin me SHBA dhe OSBE, Sot,
July 20, 2010, http://www.sot.com.al/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2393:berishatjeter-tentative-per-te-kontrolluar-shish-rikthen-konfliktin-me-shba-dheosbe&catid=79:politike&Itemid=466.


Secretary General Rasmussen, during his visit to Albania in 2010, acknowledged that he
had had a phone conversation with PM Berisha on this issue and that he was very
confident that the Albanian government will ensure that all Albanian laws will be
conform NATO standards. 243 Ultimately, the government withdrew the draft law.
In 2012, the opposition party accused the Ministry of Defense of a lack of
transparency on weapons trade and the management of military real estate inventory. A
group of members of parliament from the opposition party requested parliamentary
oversight on the Ministry of Defense. The parliamentary audit team, composed of
opposition members of parliament, was not allowed to conduct the inspection of the
Minister of Defense on grounds of illegality and political accusation. Then, a group of
parliament members wrote a letter to SG Rasmussen notifying him about the situation
and asking his mediation to unblock this institutional deadlock. 244 SG Rasmussen replied
with a letter to the Albanian parliamentarians stating that he appreciated the role of
Albania in NATO and specifying that the parliamentary oversight is crucial for the
countrys democracy. He wisely advised that it was in the best of the country that
national institutions cooperate closely and constructively. 245
On one hand these events illustrate the mutual distrust in the national institutions
and in opposite political parties in a non-consolidated democracy. On the other hand, it
shows that there is a strong confidence in NATO, which is seen as a guarantor of the
democracy in Albania.


Tirana, Rasmussen: The Policymakers should cooperate, Balkanweb, April 29, 2010,
244 PS letr NATO-s pr Mbrojtjen, Socialistt ankohen te Aleanca pr Imamin, Infoarkiv, October
14, 2012, http://lajme.shqiperia.com/lajme/artikull/iden/1047296265/titulli/PS-leter-NATO-s-perMbrojtjen-socialistet-ankohen-te-Aleanca-per-Imamin.
245 Rasmusen i prgjigjet Lutajt: Punoni s Bashku pr Kontrollin te Mbrojtja, Panorama, October
30, 2012, http://www.panorama.com.al/2012/10/30/rasmusen-i-pergjigjet-lutajt-punoni-se-bashku-perkontrollin-te-mbrojtja/.




The aftermath of NATO membership will pose its own challenges for Albania.

After membership in the Alliance comes the integration into the Alliance. This
integration is a longer process related to the development of political, economic,
financial and military capabilities of the member to be able to exercise both the benefits
and the contributions of collective security and defense. 246

The Integration Begins

In this context, the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) began full military integration

in NATO structure. Allied Command of Transformation (ACT) is guiding this very

important process. In close cooperation with ACT, a midterm integration plan has been
developed. The plan prioritizes the review of Strategic Documents and the Long Term
Military Plan, the management of Human Resources, the Force Goals (FG), Logistics and
Collective Defense. For each field working groups are established and cooperating
closely with allied experts to develop plans.
A Strategic Defense Review (SDR) is currently in process. The recommendation
of the SDR will be the base of the NSS and Military Strategy which are also under
review. 247 These strategic documents will reflect the new status of Albania, as a NATO
member, depict the path to the full integration of AAF in NATO structures, and include
NATOs new Strategic Concept. The new forms of terrorism, cybercrime, energy
security, proliferation of WMD, ballistic missiles, piracy, failed states, natural disasters
etc. are some of the actual threats and challenges which are pointed out in NATOs
Lisbon Strategic Concept. 248 These threats will be also part of the NSS of Albania.249

Thimi Hudhra, Beyond Strasbourgh&Kehl:Military Challenges of NATO Membership, Revista

Ushtarake, (March 2011), 36.

Ministry of Defense, Speech by the Albanian Minister of Defense, Arben Imami, held at the 5th
Integration Conference, June 27, 2012,

The NATOs Lisbon Strategic Concept was adopted in Lisbon NATO Summit in 2010.


Albania Reviews the National Security Strategy, VOA, March 10, 2011,


The SDR will support the concept of security sector reform, which defines the Armed
Forces and the other security instruments of the security sector as public services in
support of the community. 250
In 2008 Albania accepted 49 Force Goals, which aim to increase the operational
capabilities of the AAF until 2018. During this period, Albania will undertake seriously
to build military and civilian capabilities capable to participate not only in NATO
Article 5 operations, but also in other NATO operations, such as PSO. Different from the
Partnership Goals, where implementation was voluntary and the partner country was
evaluated based on its political ambition, the implementation of Force Goals is
mandatory, and the NATO member is held accountable in front of other members for not
fulfilling them. Thus, the planning and the implementation of this package of Force Goals
will be the priority of MoD for the next years. 251
The Alliances 2010 Strategic Concept establishes NATOs strategic priorities
and its vision of Euro-Atlantic security for the next years. It provides an analysis of the
strategic environment and identifies the kinds of operations NATO must be able to
conduct. 252 In this context, the next missions of the AAF, as a NATO member, are
expected to be more difficult, longer, more complex, multinational, and in distant
locations. The AAF will have to be trained, well equipped and deployable able to
participate in NATO missions wherever is required. The AAFs aim is to self-sustain its
deployable forces for a long period. This effort will be not only costly but also will
require a substantial change in the training and the doctrine of use of AAF. In this process
the modernization of the AAF becomes indispensable. 253
The development of these capabilities will be hard to fund in the defense budget.
Even developed NATO members are facing difficulties in developing capabilities in
order to keep pace with NATOs transformation. Albania, with the smallest GDP of all,

Hudhra, Beyond Strasbourgh & Kehl,41.


Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU,165.


NATO, Improving NATOs Capabilities, October 2, 2012,


Grveni, The Role of Armed Forces in Integration of Albania in NATO and EU, 137.


has a more difficult job to do. It needs to reach the NATO standards while keeping the
pace with its change. The government should keep the defense budget near 2 percent in
order to continue the modernization projects. The modernization of the Albanian Armed
Forces is expected to continue in order to ensure meeting the requirement of the
integration and interoperability with the Alliance.

Developing Niche Capabilities, Single Set of Forces and Smart Defense

Albania is considering the development of niche capabilities. These are

qualitative capabilities in a specific field. Albania is considering developing such

capabilities at the company level s Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Military Police,
HUMINT, CIMIC, Boarding Teams, etc. Taking into consideration that 70 percent of
Albanias terrain is mountainous, developing mountainous army units may be another
option. 254 On the one hand, such capabilities can be supported by the defense budget. On
the other hand, these capabilities would be more helpful in support of NATO operations
as they are specialized qualitative capabilities in special area.
Albania has showed a strong commitment to participate in NATOs PSO
operations. In addition, Albania participates with troops in several EU or UN PSO
operations as well. Taking into consideration the aspiration of Albania to join the EU and
the ambition to be a security provider in the region and in the world, this commitment of
Albania to contribute in PSO is expected to continue in the future, too. Unfortunately,
Albania cannot afford to have separate capabilities for national missions and for NATO,
EU and UN missions. The current SDR is elaborating the concept of single set of
forces in order to develop forces with military and civilian capabilities able to carry out
national and international operations. 255
The development of new capabilities requires a careful planning and spending. In
difficult economic times it is very difficult to spend more for the defense, but at the same
time it is crucial to maintain the capabilities in order to implement the strategic concept.
Smart defense was one of the main issues on the agenda of the Alliance summit on 20

Hudhra, Beyond Strasbourgh&Kehl, 41.




21 May 2012, in Chicago. The concept aims to improve allied defense capabilities
through smarter spending, prioritization and improved cooperation. 256
Albania fully supported the Smart Defense Concept. In this framework Albania
promoted the regional cooperation through the regional initiatives such as A-5, SEEDM,
etc. The Minister of Defense Arben Imami in his speech at the Smart Defense
Conference: Regional Cooperation among Southeastern Europe Country, held in Tirana
in 2012, said that it was crucial to establish a long term and consolidated among the
regional armed forces aiming the direct contribution to NATO or EU operations. 257 The
AAFs have selected 22 projects and they are ready to cooperate on common procurement
with the other regional countries in the framework of A-5.

The Fight against Terrorism after NATO Membership

The fight against terrorism provides Albania with the opportunity to contribute to

the protection of democratic values aligned with its Allies. Albania is expected to remain
committed to the fight against international terrorism. This commitment means that with
NATO integration, Albanian military units will engage in more and more in combat
missions. This will have two main implications. First, the risk of these troops will
increase, and second, these operations may outrage the Islamic extremists, who would not
tolerate a majority Muslim country to fight against them allied with the West. To counter
these eventualities, Albania should take every measure to ensure the security of its troops
in the area of operations. It should be careful in choosing the nature of missions that it
will carry out in accordance with the real capabilities and equipment at disposal.
Measures should be taken also to develop civilian and critical infrastructure protection.
Albania has continued to improve the legal framework to discourage the terrorist
activities in the country. In 2009 Albania adopted the Law on Preventing the Money
Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, which aims to restrict the use of money from
unlawful activities and to stop the finance of terrorism. The law has been assessed to be


Imamis speech held at the 5th Integration Conference.



in conformity with international standards. 258 The law provides for the coordination
among all state institutions, bank sector, insurance companies, gambling or games entities
of casinos or private companies, etc. that deal with money transactions, the movable and
immovable assets in the territory of Albania, carried to this territory or only in transit259
In 2009, the government approved Normative Acts related to suppressing terrorist
activities such as the Normative Act on the Investigation of Financial Crime, the
Action Plan to Cross-Cutting Strategy to Fight against Organized Crime, Trafficking, and
Terrorism. The same year the parliament approved the law on Prevention and
Suppression of Organized Crime, Trafficking through Preventive Measures against
Property, which aims to suppress organized crime and trafficking through confiscation
of property of persons who have unjustified economic level as a result of suspected
criminal activities. 260
Despite this clear progress in the counter terrorism legal measures, a U.S.
Department of State Report on Terrorism suggests that these efforts were undermined by
lack of a data-processing infrastructure and an inadequate capability to track and manage
cases properly. 261 In 2008 Albania froze the bank accounts related to money laundering
and terrorist financing. In 2008 the Hamzeh Abu Rayyan, the administrator of the
company Loxhall 262 was charged and tried for hiding funds used to finance
terrorism. 263 The companys assets were confiscated. However, after several trials and
appeals, he was found not guilty by the Court of Appeals in 2011. 264


European Council Committee of Experts on Terrorism, Profiles on Counter Terrorist Capacity,






Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Country Reports on Terrorism, April, 2008, 53.

The companys owner is al-Kadi which has bought 19 buildings in Albania, including the twin
towers in the center of Tirana. Al-Kadi was in the black list of UN for several years accused for having ties
will Al Qaeda. Al Kadi was removed from the UN black list in October 2012.

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Country Reports on Terrorism, 53


Lirohet Artan Kristo, Gjykata e Lart rrzon Prokurorin, Balkanweb,



In 2010, a local imam was arrested in Durrs, accused of publicly inciting and
propagating terrorist acts by allegedly calling for jihad in an online forum. 265 The
Durrs court decided to detain the imam pending trial. The imam was found not guilty by
the Supreme Court of Albania. In both cases Albania has been accused by human rights
observers of not respecting the human rights. The Islamic Human Rights felt that at least
two articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have been
breached by the Albanian authorities. 266
Albania, as a member of the Alliance of democratic values, should be very careful
about respecting the human rights and civil liberties of all citizens and fighting terrorism
within the rule of law. This is crucial to maintain the religious harmony inside the country
as well as the positive image of Albania in the international arena and the great public
support and legitimacy that NATO enjoys in Albania Thus it is very important for
Albania to develop adequate capabilities to prosecute the future cases with
professionalism and within the rule of law.

After securing NATO membership, Albania continued the commitment to the

Alliance. The political and public support of NATO continues to be at the highest level
although it has been noted that a major part of the people does not really understand what
specific costs and benefits are associated with NATO membership. NATO continued to
be a mediator in domestic disagreements on security issues setting democratic
standards. It also motivates and shapes much of Albanias interactions with its neighbors
and international partners. This ongoing effect is expected to persist in the foreseeable
Both NATO and Albanian public opinion expects Albania to continue to be a
committed member of the Alliance. The democratic reforms are also expected to continue
due to also EU accession aspirations. Albania has improved its image in the international

Office of the Coordinator, Country Reports, 53.


Islamic Human Rights Commission, Action Alert: Albania Imam Imprisoned for not Complying
with Secret Services, June 25, 2010, http://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/alerts/9349-action-alert-albania-imam-imprisoned-for-not-complying-with-secret-services.


domain and it is expected to give its contribution also in diplomacy according to NATOs
new strategic concept. NATOs new strategic concept puts a lot of focus on partnerships.
It calls for fostering and extending the fields of cooperation with partner countries.
Albania, being a partner country for two decades, may share its experience and assist
other partner countries on the integration process especially of the countries of the region.
Under the smart defense concept, it can create regional capabilities for the management
of the air traffic, strategic transportation or civilian emergencies. These capabilities are
very useful in the facing the threats of our century including terrorism.
Albania might be helpful in assisting partner countries to demilitarize their
excessive stockpiles of ammunitions, denying terrorist to possess them, making
themselves and the region more secure. The Albanian Armed Forces gained invaluable
experience after conducting a long and difficult process of demilitarization of the
ammunition stockpile inherited from the Cold War. 267
Furthermore, Albania might be of great help in fostering the partnership with the
Islamic countries in the fight against international terrorism, for example, through the
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean Dialogue. Being a multi-religious
country with an Islamic majority and a long history of religious tolerance and a clear
western orientation, Albania may act as a bridge between Islamic countries and NATO.
Albanian troops may be engaged in CIMIC activities in the Islamic areas of NATO
operations and may take advantage of the cultural similarities with locals to facilitate the
civil-military relations.
Similarly, it will be of great interest the establishing of good relations with
Russia. Russia is one of the strongest opponents of Kosovos independence. Albania may
improve the chances to approach to Kosovo issue toward constructive cooperation with
Russia in the auspices of NATO-Russia relations. Generally speaking, NATO
partnerships offer a great opportunity for the advancing of the national interests as well.
The partnerships provide a framework of cooperation, consultation and mutual
confidence for finding common solution to the security problems.

Edison Zarka, Strategic Concept On the Partnerships of NATO: The Role of Albania and the
Armed Forces, Revista Ushtarake, (March 2011), 70.


Albanian-NATO relations have been eased especially because of the big public
support that NATO enjoys in Albania. It is in the best of both Albania and NATO to put
efforts to maintain this support at the same levels. There are some specific issues that
might decrease the public support for NATO and hamper the excellent relations on place.
First NATO, and Albania as a NATO member, should work hard for the EuroAtlantic integration of the Western Balkans as a whole. The peace and stability of the
region can be achieved only under the collective security of NATO, sharing its principles
and values.
Second, Albania and NATO should work together to find an accepted solution to
the Albanian National Interest. Albania must channel her efforts to address its national
interest under the Euro-Atlantic Umbrella. The independence of Kosovo proved the
wisdom of this course of action. Failing to address the Albanian issue in the NATO
framework might drop public support and revive the nationalist movements not only in
Albania but in the whole region. This is very important in a region where the revival of
nationalism might be still very easy. Albania should never give up to her role as a
stability factor in the region.
Third, Albania and NATO should engage in a comprehensive informative
campaign to enlighten Albanian people on the real benefits and obligations of NATO
membership. This would prevent delusion, make the expectations more realistic and
guarantee a strong public support even for tough decisions because Albania would be
prepared to face the challenges of the membership and would maximize the profits.






This thesis examines Albanian-NATO relations from the very first stage, when
Albania expressed its will to join the Alliance, until the present, with Albania a full
member of NATO. During this time, Albanian-NATO relations passed through different
forms of partnershipsincluding PfP, MAP, PARP, and finally, membership. During all
these stages, Albanian-NATO relations transformed the strategic culture of Albania and
enhanced security in Albania and in the region.
Furthermore, the examination of these relations in the light of the fight against
terrorism provides a compelling case study that shed light on the ability of the Alliance to
use these partnerships to engage partner/member countries in the fight against
international terrorism and other 21st- century security threats.


The analysis of the impact that NATOs counterterrorism strategy has had on the

transformation of the Albanian Armed Forces provides an interesting case study of the
process of transforming a nations strategic culture through consequent and consistent
institutional association. The Albanian Armed Forces were transformed dramatically
from a massive army of people into a much smaller, professional, and modern armed
force, able to adapt to the new security environment, fight successfully against the new
security threats such as international terrorism and contribute in the international security
under the Euro-Atlantic Alliance. Participating in the ISAF mission was an invaluable
experience for the armed forces, which helped them integrate much faster with the allied
military forces.


Both NATO and Albanian public opinion expects Albania to continue to be a

committed member of the Alliance. Albania, being a partner country for two decades, is
ready to play its role in fostering and extending the cooperation with partner countries in
the fight against international terrorism. Under the smart defense concept, it might

create regional capabilities for the management of the consequences of terrorist acts,
surveillance systems, boarding teams, border control, etc. Albania might be helpful in
assisting partner countries to demilitarize their excessive stockpiles of ammunitions,
denying terrorist to possess them, making themselves and the region more secure.
Furthermore, Albania might be of great help in fostering the partnership with the
Islamic countries in the fight against international terrorism. Being a multi-religious
country with an Islamic majority and also a long history of religious tolerance and a clear
western orientation, Albania may act as a bridge between Islamic countries and NATO.
Albanian troops may be engaged in CIMIC activities in the Islamic areas of NATO
operations and may take advantage of the cultural similarities with locals to facilitate the
civil-military relations.
While there are a lot of benefits for Albania engaging in the fight against the
international terrorism, one should not forget that there is a cost to be paid, too. Albania
should be careful to keep the cost as low as possible. Albania should be prudent while
pursuing strategies against international terrorism that might delegitimize its mission in
the fight against international terrorism and drop public support. Such strategies should
not attack Islam as a religion but the Islamic extremism which hampers the religious
harmony and tolerance that prevails in Albania. Furthermore, all counter terrorism efforts
should be in accordance with the rule of law, respecting the civil liberties of Albanians as
it is expected from a NATO country. In addition, Albania should be prepared to face
terrorist acts that may target Albania or allied troops and interests in Albania as
retaliation to the contribution in counter international terrorism missions.
Albanian-NATO relations in the fight against terrorism have been eased
especially because of the overwhelming public support that NATO enjoys in Albania. It
is in the best interests of both Albania and NATO to put effort into maintaining this
support at the same levels. Albania and NATO should work together to find an
acceptable solution to the Albanian national interest. It includes the recognition of
Kosovos independence by all NATO countries which might open the road of EuroAtlantic integration of Kosovo suggesting a stable and acceptable solution of the
coexistence of, virtually, two Albanian states in the region. In the same view, Albania and

NATO should work on respecting the rights of the ethnic Albanians who lives in other
neighbor countries. Failing to address the Albanian issue in the NATO framework might
diminish public support and revive the nationalist movements not only in Albania but in
the whole region which, at the end, influences directly the security of NATO.


Albanian-NATO relations in the fight against terrorism have positive implication

for both of them. First of all, the fight against terrorism provided Albania with an
opportunity to convince the West that Albania holds true to the democratic values of the
Alliance and that it was determined to seek its security within NATOpartnership/membership. Second, these relations shaped and reinforced the NATOs
mindset in Albania to tackle the new security threats. Albania identified the terrorism as a
security threat to itself and to the world and changed its security documents, doctrine and
institution in accordance with NATOs documents in order to be able to fight it.
Third, Albanias Euro-Atlantic integration perspective and process provided
strong incentives to make defense and security institution reforms, fight organize crime,
illegal trafficking and terrorism financing thus denying Albania to be a safe haven for
terrorists and improving significantly the domestic security. On the other hand, the
embrace of NATOs values and the Albanias ascription to Euro-Atlantic identity, as
noted in the thesis, has made it difficult for religious extremists to spread their ideology
and conduct terrorist activities in Albania.
Fourth, the fight against international terrorism involves a large spectrum of
measures and efforts in several fields such as intelligence sharing, border control,
enacting counter terrorist laws, regional cooperation, developing military capabilities,
participating in counter terrorism operations and a lot more. Therefore, the contribution
of a small country in some of these fields might be as valuable as the contribution of a big
one. This fact created the national awareness of Albania of making important
contributions in the international fight against terrorism keeping Albania motivated.
Having the NATO intervention in Kosovo in the year 1999 to end the genocide


atrocities of the Milosevics regime against the Albanians there, Albanians, in turn,
wanted to play their gratifying role for the freedom and security of the other people.
Fifth, the fight against international terrorism united Albania with the regional
countries, increasing cooperation, mutual trust and the awareness to tackle together the
common threats that endanger the peace and security of the region. In this aspect we may
say that it fostered the regional security and was a tool of integration in the Euro-Atlantic







The analysis of the Albanian-NATO relations in the fight against international

terrorism in this thesis opposes the view that NATO is not the suitable organization to
fight the international terrorism. The case study showed that NATO partnership
frameworks with Albania were an effective tool to fight international terrorism for
several reasons. First, it assisted Albania in improving its internal security, thus reducing
the risk the country would become a safe haven for terrorists. Second, its engagement in
the region improved the peace and stability of the Balkans, denying the terrorist activities
in the region. Third, it promoted Albanias contribution to the ISAF mission. Fourth, it
made very good use of soft power by engaging a Muslim majority country in the global
fight against terrorism, emphasizing the justice of the cause showing that NATOs
operations in Afghanistan do not amount to a war on a major world religion but rather a
war on terrorism in a small band of mass murderers and criminals.
NATO-Albanian relations in the counterterrorism realm suggest NATOs ability
not only to promote constructive cooperation, but also to wage the war of ideas, both of
which are two important fronts in the war on terror. 268 The case study is important
because it demonstrates that the power of the Alliance to fight international terrorism
rests in the Alliances ability to build partnerships and use them effectively. The
partnership, as the case study showed, may include many fields of cooperation, in
addition to military cooperation, which all together complement and enhance the efforts

Byman, The Five Front War, 173-179.


in the fight against international terrorism. The Albanian-NATO partnership in the fight
against terrorism might be a model for the other regional PfP countries that aspire to join
NATO. NATO should take into consideration the limitation that such a model might
present due to lower public support and political consensus of other countries to join
This is why NATO should revitalize the PfP partnership framework 269 and adopt
a more efficient and flexible partnership policy. 270 NATO should be open to
consultation with any partner country on security issues of common concern and offer
them a substantial role in shaping the NATO-led operations to which they contribute.271
The PFP framework should be better integrated with successful sub-regional initiatives
that have similar objectives, for example, the SEDM initiative. 272
Furthermore, PfP and other partnerships should expand to include more
nonmilitary activities and cooperation, such as police cooperation, intelligence sharing,
emergency response cooperation, enhancement of law enforcement and training partner
countries. This is fully in the accordance with the Strategic Concept 2010.
The Alliance acknowledged the importance of the partnerships in the NATOs
strategic concept 2010. The new strategic concept envisages Euro-Atlantic security to be
promoted through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and
organizations around the globe. 273 Albanias experience withand continued presence
inthe Alliance provides a very encouraging basis on which to advance this strategy and
its manifest benefits.


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